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Turkey Tracks: Drying Mint

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November 20, 2017

Drying Mint

I’ve had my Reynolds, Georgia, grandmother’s mint in my garden for nearly 50 years now–through moves to three different houses.

I almost lost it a few years back here in Maine, but put it in three different places in my garden and when it began to come back, gifted it to a neighbor for extra safe keeping.  It is now close to running amok, as mint will do.  But I love to walk by it and pinch off a piece and crush it in my hands.  In places I ruthlessly mow it down and enjoy the heavenly mint smell wafting across the yard.

I particularly like throwing some leaves into a stir fry.  It just adds a very interesting layer of flavor.

So, this year I’ve tried drying it, stripping off the dried leaves, and stuffing them into glass jars.

High end mint teas are nothing more than dried mint leaves and sell for $6 or so a box of 20 packets!!!!

The mint I’ve dried is working find in stir fries–not like the fresh, but an interesting taste layer nevertheless.

To dry, just cut some stems and stick them into a kitchen glass for a few days.

I use parchment paper to capture the leaves as I strip them from the stalks with my fingers.

The jars are freebies after I’ve eaten the raw cream they contained.

And, voila!

Winter pleasures

(I also blogged here about preserving mint and basil in olive oil in the refrigerator–and have to dig out some of those leaves next stir fry to experiment.)

Written by louisaenright

November 20, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Turkey Tracks: DUCK FAT FOUND!

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Turkey Tracks:  October 23, 2017

DUCK FAT FOUND!

Rich, healthy, lovely stuff.

Wonderful for stir-fry use.

The folks in France where ducks are raised and where duck fat is used have little or no heart disease.

Just saying…

Written by louisaenright

October 23, 2017 at 10:55 am

Turkey Tracks: Fall Chores

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Turkey Tracks:  October 16, 2017

Fall Chores

Look at this empty porch!

All the wind chimes and flower pots and hanging baskets are down and stored.

The bags you see are full of daffodil bulbs and garlic–and as I write, they are all planted.

Is this the last mow?

Time will tell.  The mower is actually useful to mulch up fallen leaves.  That is much easier than raking or blowing them.

Look how the light has changed now.  I took this picture around noon the other day.

The Blue Hubbard squashes  are harvested and are living in the garage for the moment.  They are small this year, due to the drought, but I hope good.  Even small they are a LARGE squash.

The Cosmos keep blooming…

So beautiful and cheerful.

But the garden is all cleared out now–which was not true when I took this picture.

Betsy Maislen told me that one could strip out all the basil leaves in the fall, pack them in a jar, cover them with olive oil, and enjoy them all winter.  She swears they stay nice and green.  If basil works, why not mint??  So I picked mint tips too.  At the very least, the oil will be great for flavoring and salads.  I LOVE a hint of mint in sautéed veggies.

I still have mint in the garden I want to dry for winter teas.  And maybe I’ll try some rosemary dried for tea and freshly covered with olive oil???

I am off to a quilting retreat, so that will have to wait until I get home.

Still no hard frost at my house.

Written by louisaenright

October 15, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Turkey Tracks: I Am Not Starving

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Turkey Tracks:  September 18, 2017

I Am Not Starving

Here’s a typical lunch for me these days:  a big salad with lots of fresh veggies and some meat protein.  This one has boneless chicken breasts marinated and flash roasted and an array of local fresh produce:  roasted beets and raw cukes, red peppers, carrots, lettuce, fresh dill, olive oil, and salt.

I clearly have something called MCAS or MCAD, Mast Cell Activation Disorder/Syndrome.  I realized this past winter when it got much worse, that I’ve had it my whole life.  It is behind all the trouble with allergies and unpleasant food intolerances.  It is most likely genetic, or the propensity toward it is.  And hello folks, these mast cell disorders are NOT rare, as previously thought.  Some estimates are one in six have some form of it.  I got it from my dad, who thought he had asthma, when really he was likely reacting to histamine triggers he did not recognize, which was true for me for the past 72 years.  Indeed, drugs, from over the counter to serious drugs like my dad took for what he called asthma, can make the condition much worse.  They do for me.  I can’t even look at a Zyrtek or Claritin.

Mainstream medicine recognized this problem around 2008 and 2009 and gradually the knowledge is widening.  The Mayo Clinic is “on it,” for instance.  Common triggers are fermented foods, alcohol, aged foods like aged cheeses, possibly gluten, yeast, chemical smells and chemicals put on the body, hot, cold, exercise, travel, etc.  Some foods trigger the body so that it releases histamine–like citrus, for instance.  The nightshades (like tomato, peppers, eggplant, potatoes) are a problem. There are a number of food lists of high and low histamine foods, but each person has to kind of figure out what works and what does not–and those foods/triggers can change from day to day depending on how full each person’s “histamine glass” is at the moment.  Some people experience terrible migraines and anaphylactic shock, and I feel so lucky that I have not had either of those.  But I have plenty of nasty symptoms otherwise.  And I had plenty of warning signals last summer and fall, but didn’t recognize them for what they were.  There may also be a connection between aging, loss of estrogen, and the main symptom, histamine intolerances.

So…I can’t add vinegar of citrus to a salad and have learned to eat them with a drizzle of good olive oil and sprinkles of salt.  The vegetables themselves are providing plenty of flavor, so I don’t feel deprived.  I have to eat very fresh foods–leftovers acquire histamines as they sit around–so I am cooking a lot.   That’s fine.  I like to cook, and I like to be clear-headed.  One immediate reaction is a king of brain fog so that I feel like I’m walking in slow motion all day, and it is harder to focus.  Restaurants are very hard for me these days.

But, I feel so lucky that I finally stumbled on the information I needed to help myself–and as long as I stay in my own little bubble, I am doing fine.  Along the way last winter I lost almost 40 pounds, which has also been a good thing, however hard it was at the time.  I’d like to lose 20 more and am working at that project now.  I feel lighter, healthier, and have a ton of energy–as long as I stay in the bubble.  Penny girl dog and I are walking every day, and we are both enjoying that a lot.  And I’m suddenly interested in making some fun clothes for my lighter body.

Here’s one of my go-to recipes:

Marinated Boneless Chicken Breasts

Boneless chicken breasts taste like dry newspaper to me, so I needed a way to pep them up.  I went out into the garden and harvested handfuls of herbs–rosemary, parsley, tarragon, thyme, sage, basil, mint–whatever moved me at the moment.  I stuffed them into the Vitamix, added some of the fresh garlic I grew this year, olive oil, and salt.  I added oil until I got a good slurry.  You could use a food processor or a blender as well.

I bought two packages of boneless chicken breasts and took a sharp knife and cut them in half lengthwise–to make a thinner piece of meat.  I put them into a bowl and poured the slurry over them and coated them well with my hands.  I let them sit in the refrigerator about an hour.  I froze all but two–and those two I put on parchment paper in a very hot oven–400 degrees with the convection fan on.  They cooked in 15 or so minutes.  No more than 20 as they are thin.  I put one in the refrigerator to eat as soon as possible and cut the other one up for my salad.  I also have discovered these are great to cook on a hot grill.

Many of you could, of course, add citrus or vinegar to the marinade.  Or, soy.

The frozen breasts thaw pretty quickly if you put the package on something cast iron–a few hours.  And it’s great to have some “go to” quick food assets in your pantry.

Enjoy!

Written by louisaenright

September 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Turkey Tracks: Cabbage “Steaks”

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Turkey Tracks:  January 30, 2017

Cabbage “Steaks”

I saw a recipe for cabbage “steaks” on Facebook not along ago.

I am one of those people who LOVE all roasted vegetables, so I thought I’d try this one.  I’ve roasted cabbage sliced thin into shreds before and like it a lot, especially if there is garlic in the mixture.  In this recipe, one slices cabbage into rounds, drizzles olive oil over the “steak,” adds salt and pepper and whatever else one wants, and roasts in a 350º oven for something like 40 to 45 minutes.  The edges of the “steak” will get brown, as will the bottom.  (I cover the pan with parchment paper as I long ago stopped using toxic aluminum foil around food.)  Thicker steaks might take longer.  One that is about 1/2 inches or a bit bigger is about right.  The thicker the “steak,” the longer it takes to get that caramelized sweetness roasting can bring.

Here’s what the “steak” looks like on a plate alongside fresh peppers and carrots and some roasted haddock:

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Yumminess!

Written by louisaenright

January 30, 2017 at 11:28 am

Turkey Tracks: Improv Sauteed Cabbage

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Turkey Tracks:  December 31, 2016

Improv Sautéed Cabbage

I hardly ever use recipes any more.

I collect the good clean food found in one of our co-ops or that comes from my summer CSA or garden and just…cook it.

The other day I had one small cabbage, the size of a large softball,  left from the summer CSA, Hope’s Edge.  Cabbage keeps really well in a produce drawer.  I don’t wrap it.

I had some leftover meatloaf, and it was lunchtime, and I was hungry.

So I put the meatloaf into the oven to warm–takes only about 15 minutes–and started sautéing the cabbage in some of my Wilderness Family Naturals centrifuge extracted, unheated coconut oil.  (I order this coconut oil by the case and am always willing to see a jar to someone at cost as it is much cheaper to bulk order.)

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I added a hunk of raw butter for added flavor and browning and good fat, some chopped shallots, some Penzey’s spices, local sea salt, and pepper.  Penzey’s spices are highly rated by the Weston A. Price Foundation.

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It’s looking good!

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And it was…

The meatloaf got a little brown on top as someone stopped by to give me something.  This one had added grated carrots and a handful of the greens I dried and whirred into tiny green flakes in the food processor last summer.  (A recipe for meatloaf is elsewhere on this blog.)

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But this lunch was delicious, nourishing, and filling.

Turkey Tracks: Winter Comfort Food: Leek and Potato Soup

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Turkey Tracks:  December 18, 2016

Winter Comfort Food:  Leek and Potato Soup

The classic combo of leeks and potatoes is…classic.

I alter Julia Child’s recipe a bit by using a chicken bone broth as a base instead of plain water.  AND, I do wilt the leeks with about 1/4 cup of raw butter before throwing in the potatoes and the broth.

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While the above very simple mixture cooks–about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are really soft, I go hunting for what Emeril Lagasse used to call “the boat motor.”  It’s so much easier than trying to hand smash the soup, or putting a really hot liquid into a blender or through a food mill.

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The result is a velvety smooth soup.

You can make this kind of soup with any kind of veggie combo actually.  Squashes work like the potatoes to give the velvet texture.

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Add a drizzle of raw cream or more butter and a sprinkle of something green, like dried herbs, chopped fresh parsley, etc.

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And, enjoy!

 

Written by louisaenright

December 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm