Affording the Whole Cow

So, last month we talked about Buying the Whole Cow – reasons why you might want to buy meat in bulk and the cost savings involved. At the end of that post, I told you this month we would discuss how you could afford to make that large purchase – and it is a large one. Most people don’t just have $500+ extra lying around. It is very possible to make a large purchase like this, but it does take a little bit of planning. 

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First, you need to know that 200+ pounds of meat takes up a LOT of space. You’re going to need somewhere to store it, and a refrigerator freezer isn’t going to cut it. I can honestly say that our deep freezer was one of the best investments we ever made. It has paid for itself many times over – it allows us to buy at deep discount and have the ability to store the food.  Continue reading

Winter pork pot roast with sweet root vegetables

It’s been COLD this week. Yesterday was a high of 4 degrees. Without my garden bounty to inspire me I turn to the winter storage vegetables and good meats for comfort food inspiration.  

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I ordered some nice shoulder roasts from a local farm, and decided to put one into a simple pot roast for dinner. I love surprising my husband with these savory smells as he kicks the snow off his boots and walks into the warm house. Continue reading

Enjoying sauerkraut – a winter superfood!

Our discovery of the benefits of fermented food began with our daughter contracting a serious case of MRSA (You can read the whole story HERE). Since then we’ve learned how important it is to keep our guts populated with beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and we’ve made a commitment to incorporating probiotic-rich foods into our diet. Purchasing good quality probiotic supplements for the whole family was cost prohibitive for us. Here is what Dr. Mercola says about it:

“Fermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of probiotics than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora.”  Read more HERE.

We were thrilled to learn that we could make fermented food ourselves, that would have MORE probiotic content than the expensive supplements we couldn’t afford. We now make regular batches of lacto-fermented vegetables regularly, make yogurt from grass-fed organic milk and brew our own kombucha tea.   

I wanted to share a couple of ideas for how to enjoy our favorite fermented vegetable: Sauerkraut.

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Humble root and bulb vegetables – the makings of fresh, bright salads.

It’s amazing how easily we can view ‘unknown’ vegetables as strange and therefore undesirable. I believe that exploration and fearless courage are keys to eating healthfully and deliciously. Enter roots and bulbs: Kohlrabi, Daikon, and Fennel bulb.  

A few years ago I would have scratched my head. Nope. Couldn’t have identified them in a produce lineup.

I came across some Daikon on sale the other day.  I decided to practice some exploratory cuisine and bought them, not knowing how to prepare them. (That’s alright, we live in the information age! Not a problem!)

After some googling I decided to turn them into a fresh salady-slaw. It was a hit! Daikon is a type of radish, very fresh and crisp with a mild, sweet flavor. Peeled and sliced thin (I used a mandolin to get papery-thin slices) – they were the perfect beginnings to a great side.

Inspired by a simple cabbage slaw that we eat often I added carrot, green onions, and threw in another uncommon but delicious vegetable: Fennel bulb.

Fennel is also known as Sweet Anise – and has a mild but fresh licorice-esque taste. It might sound strange (because in America we think of the black rubbery candy) but it adds a fresh brightness and a touch of sweet to salads when added in thin slices.

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Quick meat patties – (and how to sneak in some extra greens!)

Spaghetti & meatballs, burgers with all the fixins, Mama’s meatloaf with bacon… my family really loves these meals. But sometimes I don’t have time – or all the ingredients to make them fully. No problem – we can make a quick variation on the above by using similar ingredients. The result is usually the same – I hear lots of  ’mmmmm!’s around the table. Continue reading

Banana & Chocolate Cream ‘Tiramisu’ (Grain-free)

We spent all day yesterday looking for some ‘lost’ library books. Fines were accumulating, so we literally cleaned every room. Still, no books. Turns out they had been neatly tucked inside a book bag hidden behind my purse… right where they were supposed to be.

I decided we needed a reward for our hard work. CAKE was in order. And chocolate, too. This is how things began:

“I need to use up this whipping cream. Hmmm… I also have lots of bananas. Yes… bananas. Those go well with chocolate and cake…”

When my cake turned out kind of ugly because I over-beat the eggs and lost some moisture, I thought…. how can I disguise it?

“I’ll just have to cut it up and cover it with whipped cream. Kind of like… tiramisu!”

When these ‘happy accidents’ happen – I am excited enough to share.  So here it is:

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Seed Starting Indoors – an early start for a productive summer garden

Early February. It’s been approximately three months since the last leaves fell off the trees. I am really ready to see green again.

Fortunately, this is the month that I begin my first seedlings which will begin growing under lights in my basement. I start with the cold season crops: cabbage, kale, onions, asian greens, broccoli, collards.  These will be ready to go to the greenhouse, then into the ground the earliest.  

I create a simple soil mix to give my seedlings the best start possible (it’s more cost-effective to mix your own):

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Homemade hummus – a protien-packed snack or a meal in itself!

We love discovering staple foods from other cultures. The humble chickpea (garbanzo bean) can be quickly transformed into the smooth, luscious dip that is a mainstay in middle eastern cuisine.

We order our dried beans in bulk – and have learned how easy it can be to prepare bean-based meals from scratch. Simply soak the dried chickpeas in water (with a splash of apple cider vinegar or whey) and soak overnight. Why this important step? Read here to find out. The next day, simply drain away the soaking liquid (or feed it to plants – they love it). Re-fill your pot with fresh water and bring to a boil, then down to a simmer. Your pre-soaked beans will cook in about half the time!  

I always do a few pounds of beans at a time, then freeze them. That way when I want to whip up a batch of hummus, or add them to a quick soup, they are ready to thaw and use!

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Buying the Whole Cow

Only crazy people buy a whole cow at one time. The people who raise a pig and then slaughter it, resulting in 231 pounds of pork (18 pounds of pork belly included for bacon) are a little touched in the head. That’s something they used to do in the “good ole days” when people kept stuff in the cellar and meat in the smokehouse. Those might have been the “good ole days,” but those same people used the outhouse and used the Sears and Roebuck catalog for its utility, as well as shopping. Sorry, but this is America. This is 2013. I can get my meat weekly at the store, so why in the world would I want 231 pounds of it all at one time? Lame-o, right?

Cows on Meadow

Hello – my name is Stacy…I’m old fashioned. I buy whole pigs and 50 pounds of sucanat at one time. There are two main reasons for this: Continue reading