Monday, December 19, 2011

Warm Winter Salad

Although this has a long ingredient list and three steps to it, it is actually fairly simple to make.  It is a variation on Chicken and Wild Rice Salad from The Earth-Bound Cook by Myra Goodman (a great book on sustainable real food cooking).  I looked at the ingredient list and decided that this would be great as a warm salad particularly since clementines are now in season.  I've also included variations on the theme which I haven't tried out myself yet but I know would be quite tasty.  To make this dish pop there are a few ingredients you can't skimp on.  Buy the best olive oil and balsamic vinegar you can afford.  Use fresh parsley.

serves 3-4

1 1/2c Lundburg Wild Blend rice mix
3c filtered water

1T olive oil
1T balsamic vinegar
1/2t dried thyme
pinch sea salt
pinch pepper
small clove garlic

poached chicken:
2/3-1lb pastured organic chicken breast
2-3 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1t peppercorns
1t sea salt
1T dried onion
1t dried celery flake or a stalk of celery cut to fit in pan

add ins and toppers:
4 clementines
1c pecans
2 stalks celery with leaves
handful of fresh parsley
1 or 2 shallots

  1. First thing to do is get the rice cooking as this step will take the longest.  Add rice and water to rice cooker and let rip.
  2. Next make the dressing so that the flavors can have time to blend.  It is easiest to mix this up in a small jar that has a lid.  Just add the olive oil, vinegar, dried thyme, pinch salt, pinch pepper to the jar.  Peel and press the garlic right into the jar.  If you don't own a garlic press then smear the garlic over a cutting board with a knife until it is a paste and then add.  Put the lid on the jar and shake.
  3. Set the chicken to poach.  Put chicken in pan and cover with filtered water.  Add sage, bay, sprig thyme, salt, peppercorns and celery to water.  Bring to boil then reduce to simmer.  Cover and cook for ten minutes.
  4. While everything is cooking peel and segment the clementines.  Break up the pecans into smaller pieces.  The easiest method is to place them in a ziplock baggie and mash them with a meat tenderizing hammer.  Mince fresh celery stalks and shallot and set aside.  Mince celery leaves and parsley leaves.
  5. When chicken is cooked remove from poaching water and shred chicken into bite sized pieces.  Discard poaching water.   Cover and keep warm until rice is cooked.
  6. Once the rice is done, mix with chicken in a big bowl.  Stir in celery and shallot.  Gently fold in clementine segments.
  7. Plate up the warm salad and top with dressing, celery leaves and parsley.
Nut substitutions: almond, cashew, walnut, pistachio
Clementine substitutions: pineapple, apricot, Crasins, Mandarin oranges, figs
Rice substitutions: regular wild rice mix
Shallot substitution: scallions, red onion, vidalia onion

Creamy DF Butternut Squash Soup

I got sick again so suddenly I can't eat dairy.  It seems that I can only eat fruits,  Chicken Stock and Chicken Vegetable soup but I can only tolerate this for a few days straight.  I've now been sick for over a week.  Since I love squash and it is GAPS approved, I knew that it wouldn't bother my delicate tummy.

One of the things that comes up over and over again on WAP blogs is to eat lots of good fats.  I get most of my fats from dairy which is why I tend to add cheese or cream or sour cream to my soups.  Since this is suddenly no longer an option, I started wondering how I could add good fats back into my diet without using butter or milk products.  Hence, I tinkered with my favorite squash soup recipe (which I just discovered I never put up here on my site).  The result is a  dairy free high fat squash soup that is really tasty.

makes one large bowl or two small

1c Basic Chicken Stock
1-2c diced squash
1 leek leaf coarsely chopped
1T coconut oil
1T or more almond butter

  1. Using a small 1 quart saucepan add enough squash to stock so that it is barely covered with liquid.  Depending how small you diced the squash this will vary.  I tend to cut mine up on the small 1/2" cube size.
  2. Add the leek and bring the soup to a simmer.
  3. Cover and cook about ten minutes until the squash is fork tender.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree vegetables.
  5. Stir in coconut oil and almond butter until well blended.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add more almond butter if you like.
  • use other types of winter squash
  • use cashew butter or sesame butter instead of almond

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cauliflower and Swiss Soup

This is amazingly good.  This is based on my new method of making soup.  Take some beef or chicken stock, boil vegetables in the stock, then puree with an immersion blender.  Since I froze my Basic Chicken Stock in one cup portions, this makes soup creation really easy and super fast.   It has been so much fun making different combinations of vegetables and flavors.  This one is a big winner.

serves 1-2 (depending upon how hungry you are)

1c Basic Chicken Stock
2-3c cauliflower (fresh or frozen)
~1T of diced onion (I threw in a couple of frozen pearl onions)
pinch Celtic sea salt
grind of fresh pepper
1/2c raw milk Swiss cheese

  1. If using fresh cauliflower discard leaves, remove core and cut up florets.
  2. Using a 1qt pan put in the chicken stock and fill with as much cauliflower as will fit.
  3. Add onion, salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until cauliflower is soft when pricked with a knife.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. While soup is simmering, coarsely grate cheese so that you have about a half cup of loosely packed shavings.  Adjust amount to your own taste.
  7. Using an immersion blender blend until smooth being very careful not to splash hot liquid on yourself.
  8. Stir in cheese and let melt.
  9. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pork Medallions with Sherry Pan Sauce

This one I stole from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and made it WAPS legal.  I just got sprouted kamut and sprouted spelt flours in the mail today so I decided to try the kamut in this recipe.  It worked wonderfully!!

Beware though, kamut is a type of wheat so if you need truly GF recipe use nonGMO cornstarch or arrowroot powder.  However I can't vouch for the texture/flavor of the substitute since I haven't tried it myself.  Nut flours are another option but I've found they make things extra crunchy and they won't thicken the sauce as well as cornstarch or arrowroot.

The pan sauce makes this dish so don't skip it.  It is wicked good!

serves 2-3

~1lb pork tenderloin
3T sprouted kamut flour (or wheat or spelt or for GF use non-GMO cornstarch)
~1t fresh or dried thyme
large pinch salt & pepper
olive oil
2T butter divided
2 lemon wedges
1/4c cooking sherry

  1. Rinse and dry off the pork.
  2. Trim any fat or sliver bits off the tenderloin and slice into 1/8" thick rounds.
  3. In a plastic baggie (my fav) or bowl combine flour, salt, pepper and thyme.  Mix well.
  4. Add pork and coat evenly.  If using a baggie just seal and shake.
  5. Heat oil and 1T butter in large saute pan.  When a pinch of flour sizzles in the oil start adding the pork one slice at a time and don't let the slices touch.  You might have to do a couple of batches like I did.  In that case keep the finished batch on a plate covered with pan lid to keep them warm.
  6. Cook until brown and then flip and brown the second side.  Remove to plate and cover to keep warm while making the pan sauce.
  7. Drain fat out of pan and add sherry.  Let boil while scrapping the pan to loosen up the yummy bits stuck to the bottom.  Keep it simmering until almost gone (this evaporates the alcohol off while leaving behind yummy flavor) then add the juice from the lemon wedges. When simmering again add the remaining 1T of butter and stir in until melted.  This should result in a several tablespoons of thickish pan sauce.
  8. Pour over waiting pork medallions and serve immediately.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

This is a wicked easy meal.  Other vegetables can easily substituted.  In fact, I'm going to do this one with sweet potato next.  And BTW, this is an excellent way to get the broth into your system that WAP recommends.

serves one

1/2c Basic Chicken Stock
1-2c diced squash
1T butter
salt and pepper
  1. Peel and dice squash
  2. Simmer in chicken broth until fork tender
  3. Puree until smooth
  4. Add salt and pepper and stir in butter
This has a nice mild flavor.  You can really taste the squash and I like the simplicity of it.  If you want to add a bit more depth of flavor you can add onion, garlic or ginger in to cook with the squash.  All of which would complement this nicely.  You could also go traditional and add some nutmeg or cinnamon.  If you like spicy a little chili powder would be good also.  Another option is to roast the squash first and then proceed with the recipe.  Have fun!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Breakfast Stir Fry

In my quest for better health through food I've been reading Minding My Mitochondria by Dr. Wahls.  She is a physician who went from living in a wheelchair due to MS to riding a bike in six months through radical diet changes.  In her book, her diet roughly follows Paleo but with the emphasis on vegetable consumption rather than meat consumption.  She recommends nine, that's right NINE, servings of fruits and vegetables a day; three cups of leafy green veg, three cups of colored veg and three cups of mixed fruits and veg.

In order to come even close to this, juicing needs to be done daily and I've been eating spinach with my eggs in the morning.  Today I decided to add a bit of variety and came up with this delightful and easy breakfast.

BTW, I use pastured butter because of the nutrients it has.  According to Weston Price the fats are required by our bodies to aid in proper digestion.

serves one

1 leak leaf
1 large collard green leaf
1-3 leaves of kale
a fistful of portabello mushroom (i used the stalk from a giant one I grilled for dinner last night)
2-4 stalks of asparagus
pastured butter
2 free range eggs
2-3 leaves of fresh sage
drop of pastured milk
salt and pepper

  1. Wash and dry the kale, collard greens and leaks.  A salad spinner works great for this.  Take extra care with the leak since they are dirt magnets.
  2. Roll up the leaves and slice into thin strips discarding the tough middle vein/stem.
  3. Dice the mushroom and asparagus into bite size pieces.
  4. Beat the eggs in a bowl, add a drop of milk, rip the sage and add that, add some fresh ground pepper
  5. Saute the mushroom, leak and asparagus in butter until mushrooms start to soften.
  6. Add the kale and collard greens and saute until wilted.  The greens should cook down to about half the original volume.
  7. Load the vegetables onto the serving dish.
  8. Add more butter to the pan and make scrambled eggs.
  9. Serve with the vegetable.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

My hubby came down with a nasty cold so I decided that with all the lovely vegetables that I got from the farmer's market I should make a nice from scratch chicken soup.  I made the stock first, see my prior post, and then just cut up vegetables until I couldn't fit anything else in the pan.  Since the goal was to have lots of veg the quantities are loose and fast.  I was aiming for lots of different colors and lots of different varieties, making sure I had some root veg, leafy green veg and fungi in a balanced mix.  Just keep adding veg until the pot is full and then cover with broth.  You can make lots of substitutions but I can guarantee that this combination is absolutely fab!!  Best soup I've ever made!

serves 2-3

~1c cooked brown rice ( I used Lundberg's Jubilee mix)
~1c cooked chicken meat (this was left over from the broth production)
1/4c coarsely chopped red onion
1-2 cloves crushed garlic (or 1t minced from a jar)
1 stalk diced celery
1 carrot diced
1-2 fistfuls of butternut squash cut into 1/2" cubes
1-2 fistfuls of baby bok choy sliced into 1/4" strips
1 small red potato cut into 1/2" cubes
1-2 fistfuls of crimini mushrooms peeled and quartered
several cups of chicken broth
Celtic sea salt
several sprigs fresh parley coarsely chopped

  1. Cook rice while chopping the vegetables.  Let the rice fully cook before proceeding.
  2. Put rice and chicken into 2 quart pot.
  3. Cut up vegetables and keep adding until the pot is almost full (about 1" from rim)
  4. Cover with chicken broth.  Add herbs and spices.  Stir.
  5. Simmer until vegetables are are tender about 10-15 minutes.
Okay now for the substitution lists:
Root veg:  white potatoes, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips, celery root (celeriac), turnips, jicama, beets (but they will color the stock and everything else: if you use red beets you will end up with pink soup)
Leafy green veg: cabbage, napa cabbage, bok choy, baby bok choy, kale, fennel (if you like the taste), spinach
Other veg: any type of squash, pumpkin, peas, corn, green beans, wax beans, okra, snow peas, cauliflower, eggplant
Fungi: white button mushrooms, crimini (baby bellas), portabellos, shitaki, porchini (buy dried and soak before adding to pot: you can add the soaking liquid but try to keep the grit out of the soup)
Onion: green onion, yellow onion, red onion, shallots, leeks

I try to stay away from cruciferous veg in soups because they can overpower the taste but feel free to add if you like: broccoli, brussel sprouts

Because I didn't soak the rice first this isn't totally WAP legal but if you leave the rice out game on.  Check the veg list in the GAPS book to see if this is GAPS legal and just make the appropriate substitutions.  Personally I'm not yet at that level of picky in my diet.  I might be in the future but I'm still struggling to get in enough broth and fermented foods.  Baby steps.  But in the meantime yummy soup!  

Basic Chicken Stock

This is an easy one.  If you want to do this on the cheap check out the packages of chicken backs on the US Wellness Meats site.  Organic, free range and cheap.  These could also be purchased from a local butcher.  Chicken backs are scrap after they part the chicken out as legs, breasts, etc.  It is just a pain in the ass to pick the meat off the bones once the stock is done.  If you are low on energy just get legs if you want the meat or just bones if you want just broth.  If you want super cheap, save bones and cartilage from chicken dinners and freeze them or save a carcass after a roast chicken dinner.  When you have a few pounds of bones saved up then it is time to make stock.

The bones are cartilage are an essential part of the stock.  They impart nutrients that are vital for our cells to function properly.  WAP and GAPS recommends daily intake of bone broth from beef, chicken or fish to maintain good health.

makes roughly 7 cups give or take

1 package chicken backs (U.S. Wellness Meats: sorry they don't ship outside the US)
or 2.5lbs bone in chicken parts or one whole chicken carcass or several pounds of chicken bones
Filtered water
2 carrots whole or cut to fit in pan
1 yellow onion quatered
2-3 stalks of celery (it is okay to leave the leaves on) whole or cut to fit in pan
1t celtic sea salt
1t whole peppercorns
2 organic bay leaves
several sprigs of fresh thyme

  1. Put everything in a dutch oven and cover with filtered water stopping at least an inch from the rim.  You don't have to defrost the chicken.  It can go in the pot frozen.  The chicken has to be covered with water but how much additional water you add is up to you.
  2. Cover and put over a low light.
  3. Once it starts simmering lower heat until it is barely bubbling.  Skim off any scum.
  4. Cook for at least four hours.  Skimming when necessary.  Adding water if chicken is no longer covered.  I think I cooked mine around four to five hours.  The chicken will fall apart when lightly touched and can not be removed intact.
  5. Remove from heat.  Skim off any scum.
  6. Remove vegetables and discard.
  7. Fish out chicken parts and separate out any meat and save for other uses.  Discard bones.
  8. Be careful you can burn yourself easily on this step.  Carefully pour stock through a fine mesh sieve or line a colander with cheesecloth to remove all the other bits.  Discard bits.
  9. Pour broth into containers and freeze for later use.
This can also be done in a slow cooker set on low.  Cook overnight for at least 12 hours.

Unstuffed Cabbage

I wanted to call this Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage but that is a mouthful.  Anyway, this has all the parts of stuffed cabbage without the actual stuffing part or icky tomato sauce.  It is one of the tastiest meals I've had in a long time.  Okay, really since the kickass chicken soup I made on Wednesday.  I'll post that recipe later.

Anyway, I was making my very first batch of sauerkraut this morning and decided to set aside a wedge of cabbage for my dinner since I haven't eaten any in donkey's years.  I also had too many hamburger patties in the freezer (hubby suddenly decided to boycott hamburgers: groan).  So an idea was born.  How about making some rice, some savory ground beef with a side of cabbage.  OMG it was awesome!!  And it is consistent with the WAP diet except I didn't soak the rice first.  My bad.

serves 2-3

1/4 - 1/2 small head of cabbage
1-2 carrots
2-3c cooked brown rice (I used the Lundberg Jubilee Rice mix)
~1lb grass fed ground beef (in my case it was two preformed patties)
1/4c diced onion
1 clove garlic crushed (or 1t minced from a jar)
several sprigs fresh dill
several sprigs fresh parley
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
1t cumin
1/2t coriander
1/4t cardamom ground
1/4t allspice
1/4c beef broth
1T arrowroot powder
celtic sea salt
olive oil

  1. Start cooking rice first.  Allow enough time for it to almost or completely cook prior to starting the rest of the meal.  I love my rice cooker!
  2. Use a mandolin to slice cabbage into 1/4" strips.  Discard core/stem.
  3. After peeling carrots use peeler to make thin strips of carrot and combine with cabbage.
  4. Set up a vegetable steamer and steam cabbage and carrots.  Alternatively use only about 1" of cooking liquid in pan and keep a lid on and use low heat set to simmer.  This will allow the vegetables to steam instead of boil which keeps most of the nutrients in the veg instead of leaching out into the cooking water.  Keep checking so that water doesn't boil off.  This will be cooked by the time the rest of the dish is done. 
  5. Finely chop onion and crush garlic clove.  
  6. Mince fresh herbs together and set aside.
  7. Heat 1-2T olive oil and a pat of butter in frying pan.  When hot saute onion and garlic until onion is soft.
  8. Add ground beef.  Break up into small bits as it is frying.  Add the dried spices, salt and pepper. Continue to stir.  
  9. When beef is almost done but still showing some pink, add beef broth and fresh herbs.  You could drain off the extra fat prior to adding the broth and herbs but I'm trying to increase animal fats in my diet so I left it in.
  10. Sprinkle the arrowroot over the beef mixture and stir it in.  The broth will thicken up into a thin sauce for the beef. The thickness can be adjusted by either adding more broth or more arrowroot until the desired constancy is reached. Cook until beef is no longer pink.
  11. Taste test cabbage.  It should be done.  I like mine with some crunch.
  12. Serve beef over rice with the cabbage/carrots on the side.  If you are so inclined melt lots of butter over the hot cabbage mixture.  Extra yum points!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Basic Beef Broth

This recipe is as old as the hills.  There are many many versions of it on the internet.  I'm going to include two here so that you can make whichever you like depending upon time, ingredients and of course energy level.

Basic broth has been considered a healing food for generations.  It is now strongly recommended both by WAP  (Weston A Price, see resources page) and GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome: again see resources page) to heal the digestive tract and to keep us healthy.  On GAPS it is supposed to be taken daily as either a meal or a drink.  WAP recommends adding gelatin from cartilage or knuckles or even powdered unflavored gelatin packets.  And, by the way, the fat is supposed to be consumed not drained off.  According to both WAP and GAPS, animal fat from pastured animals is good for you and essential to normal digestive functioning.

Any basic stock consists of:

  • Onion, celery and carrot
  • Meat and/or bones and/or cartilage/knuckles
  • Filtered water
  • Celtic sea salt, peppercorns, herbs such as parsley and thyme
I made my first beef stock in my slow cooker and it is kick ass!  I did the super easy version; toss everything in and walk away.  There are several versions that recommend roasting the meat in the oven first to add a layer of flavor but heck the stuff I made is chock full of flavor.  Be sure to use organic ingredients and Celtic sea salt.  This reduces toxic load and adds helpful trace minerals to the stock.

Makes roughly 5 pints

2lbs 100% grass fed beef oxtails (make sure it hasn't been grained off*) with bones
3 large carrots
3 stalks celery
1/2 large onion
1t peppercorns
1 bunch fresh parsley
several sprigs fresh thyme
1t Celtic sea salt

  1. Peel onion and cut into large chunks.
  2. Cut nasty looking bits off celery and carrot and cut down to fit in slow cooker.  For mine this meant cutting in half.  The larger the bits the better.  Don't bother peeling.  Just rinse and cook.
  3. Place meat in cooker.  Add everything else.
  4. Cover ingredients with filtered water leaving at least and inch from the top edge of cooker.
  5. Set on low, cover and walk away.
  6. Several hours later come back and skim off any scum that has risen to the surface and discard.
  7. Check again several hour later and skim again if necessary.
  8. Cook a minimum of 8 hours preferably 12-24.  I think I cooked mine closer to 30.
  9. Remove large pieces and discard.  Reserve meat and marrow if so inclined.
  10. Run broth through a fine mesh sieve or through cheesecloth to remove pieces.
  11. Fill clean storage containers with broth.  Let come to room temp and then freeze (this is the easiest storage method by far).  
  12. Meat and marrow can be added back into broth as desired and can even be pureed first.
  13. To reheat use stove top.  It is rumored that the microwave destroys the nutrients in the food but I haven't seen any science behind that claim.
To add a layer of flavor to the soup (I haven't done this yet so I can't make any claims that it makes it way better than it already is), roast the meat and vegetables in a 350F oven for about an hour until the meat is nicely browned.  You can deglaze the roasting pan with stock, water or red wine and add this to the slow cooker if desired.  Honestly the soup is fantastic as is so I'm not sure this step is worth the extra trouble.  Maybe if I were feeling better myself I would give it a go but honestly the broth is wonderful without this step.

*In the US, meat processors are allowed to call cattle that has spent up to one month eating a grain diet pastured if it was grass fed prior to the grains.  However, the body chemistry of the cows change in this short time and many of the benefits of pasturing are lost in the graining off of the cattle.  Make sure the beef you purchase is 100% grass fed and has NOT been grained off.

See U.S. Wellness Meats on the resource page for more information about the benefits of eating 100% grass fed beef.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Food Adventure

When I first started this blog I had no intention of waxing philosophical about food.  I just wanted to share easy to make recipes with other chronic chicks.  However, I'm embarking on a new food adventure so today is a story and some resources rather than a recipe.

I've heard directly and indirectly from a couple of people that fully recovered from CFS after doing a major dietary overhaul and a third with severe CFS who is in partial recovery.  Now realize that the diet may have had nothing to do with the recovery.   It might be just coincidental.  However, since no one has done any studies we just don't know if they are related or not.  I figure what the heck.  Lets give it a go and bump my diet up from organic to the next level.

Our food has been basterdized so badly by BigAg that I personally have had bad reactions to various food stuffs:  Post Cereal gives me severe intestinal cramps (GMO corn or soy?), wheat causes severe brain fog and plumbing issues (again GMO), regular milk makes my PMS intolerable (growth hormones?).  Our food just isn't what it used to be.  We've messed with its DNA.  We've shot up our cows with growth hormones and antibiotics and genetically engineered chickens to have such large breasts that their legs are too weak to hold them up (see Food Inc).  As a result, I wouldn't be at all surprised that regular commercially produced food at least aggravates CFS or at worst hinders our body's ability to heal from its assult.  Our cows are injected with god knows what when they are alive.  They are fed grains which they aren't designed to eat and makes them so sick they have to be shot up with antibiotics.  After they are killed, the meat is injected with industrial salt and water to "enhance the flavor" and the left overs from butchering are ground up, bleached to kill off the bacteria and added to hamburger as filler to bump up the profit margin.  No wonder we are all getting sick.

I have been organic for almost 20 years.  It used to be easy to get organic meats and lightly processed organic foods in the regular markets.  However, over the last two years I've noticed a change in the availability of these foods.  BigAg decided to get in on the act.  Now I can only purchase "naturally raised" meat and there is large amounts of sugar in everything even organic chocolate milk and organic yogurt.  I can only get organic salad that is in a bag and boxed.  There are now white flecks in the "all natural" ground turkey.  Dean Dairy, one of the most egregious commercial dairies, has bought out every organic dairy in my area so it is now next to impossible to purchase milk that is not produced by them, even when it has an organic label on it.  Dean controls 80% of the milk supply in MA.

So I'm done with traditional food markets.  This summer I've been shopping at the local farmer's market and been delighted with fresh picked lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.  I've been eating salads every day and they are so good I've stopped putting dressing on them.  I don't want to hide the taste of the delightful vegetables and raw milk cheeses.

I've also been buying free range farm fresh eggs there.  Did you know that fresh eggs sink when put in water?  If they float they are old.  I've also noticed that the shells tend to be thicker and the yokes more golden in color than the eggs from conventional laying hens.  Granted there is little difference in taste but there are studies showing that the free range eggs have more of the good stuff in them and less of the bad stuff.  Win win.

I just recieved shipment of my second order of grass fed, organic, free range beef; organic free range chicken and certified humanely raised pork.  It is spectacular!!  It is shipped frozen solid overnight.  The meat is cheaper than the fake "all natural" (there is no regulation on "all natural" label so it can mean anything) stuff from the supermarket.  I just had the BEST hamburgers ever!

I've been thinking about a diet change ever since the elimination diet this past spring, also known as The Diet From Hell.  Since it had such a bad effect on the CFS maybe I could make changes that would improve my CFS so I've been reading about three different diets, Paleo, GAPS and WAP (Weston A Price).

The Paleo diet is based on an older form of diet.  The basic philosophy is that we've eaten a certain way for thousands of years.  Thanks to genetic selection we are designed to eat certain foods and these foods will make us healthy.  Lots of meat, organ meats, animal fat, lots of vegetables, nuts and seeds.  No dairy and no grain as these are both "modern" inventions.

I've also been reading up on the GAPS diet which claims to heal the body through healing the gut and you heal the gut through diet.  There have been about a half dozen scientific articles just this last week on gut bacteria.  Good vs bad and how diet changes the type of bacteria present in your poop.  They've actually healed people that have had guts problems by doing a poop transplant.  I know.  Ick.  This is still in the experimental stages but hey it is now becoming clear that the gut is very important and shouldn't be ignored.  There is a whole protocol to this diet and I haven't read up on it yet but you can go here for more info by clicking the link below.

I've also joined Weston A. Price Foundation.  Dr. Price was a dentist who traveled the world back in the 1930s.  He studied the teeth and bone structure of indiginous peoples.  He found that people that had good health and long lives also had good teeth and good facial bone structure.  He also found that they tended to eat the same things: animals including the fats, bones and organs;  some food is cooked but a portion is consumed raw; they consume fermented foods including fruits, veg, meats, and dairy; seeds, nuts and grains are soaked, sprouted or fermented to neutrulize the bad stuff in them; they have a diet high in saturated fats; they eat salt; they consume raw grass fed dairy (goat, sheep or cow); they eat bone broth.  They don't eat sugar or refined grains.

I had read about him a few years before I got sick and found the idea interesting but I was too busy to get involved with the labor intensive food.  I was too busy figure skating.  Now it seems like a good idea.  I just received their lit packet in the mail and their magazine is on the way.  I've already purchased "Nourishing Traditions" and "The Fourfold Path to Healing" which are books written by the current WAP president.  The first is a cookbook based on WAP diet and the second is an odd combination of ailments with descriptions and then a healing method using food, supplements, exercise and meditation for each ailment and yes CFS is one of the listed ailments with the "cure".

Bascially I'll be borrowing from all these traditions.  I'm only going to change one thing at a time.  I've already started with my meat supply.  I had my first hamburger with no adverse effects.  That was my first cow in 30ish years.  I just purchased two small 6oz steaks for my next cow experiement.  I've cut way down on my grain consumption.  I'm still drinking full fat dairy and eating full fat yogurt.  I've just ordered yogurt culture and cheese culture so I can make my own sugar free yogurt with full fat milk.  I'm looking for a source of raw milk.  As soon as I find one I'll be incorporating raw milk and raw milk yogurt into my diet.  I've managed to purchase excellent raw milk cheeses at my farmer's market and love them on my salads.  I bought mason jars so when I get some grass fed beef bones I can make beef stock.

I swear I can feel a difference after only one week of wholesome meat and few grains and very little sugar.  My daily diet runs something like: poached or boiled free range egg on wilted organic spinach topped with raw milk cheese for breakfast, grilled free range meat and two organic vegetables for dinner, huge salad with tuna or egg or chicken or raw cheese and nuts on it for supper, fruit for dessert.  I've been drinking black tea with milk, one glass of full fat milk for dessert, water with lemon all day and this week I tried Kombucha which is fermented black tea which I like a lot.

This week has been great.  I've had more energy than I've had in months.  I actually drove one day!  I was out of the house three days in a row.  I walked around my back yard yesterday and had two visitors this week.  I'm pooped today and resting but I would never have been able to do this a month ago.  Is this due to diet?  Is it one of those CFS flukes?  Who knows?  I'm going to keep plugging along with the new diet.  You'll start to see some of the results here as I develop new recipes.  My first one might be for yogurt or yogurt cream cheese.  Both are really easy to make.

BTW, as you might be able to tell I'm not a purist.  I experiment.  I keep what works for me and chuck the stuff that doesn't.  And hell, I do have to eat chocolate fairly regularly.  Although, I have gone off milk chocolate.  It is too sweet so dark chocolate it is!!



Monday, August 29, 2011

Sauteed Pea Tendrils

I've actually managed to make it to the local farmer's market each Saturday for the last month.  Husband has been not so grudgingly pushing me around in my wheelchair and I've managed to find local sources for free range eggs, grass fed beef, stone fruits, raw cheeses and exquisitely delicious salad vegetables.  I'm still not used to being able to eat a piece of fruit without hunting for the sticky label first.  I catch myself looking for it and smile when I realize that this luscious piece of fruit was just picked from a farm a few miles from my house rather than being purchased at the local big box supermarket.

One of the booths at my farmer's market specializes in Asian vegetables and one of the items that caught my attention was pea tendrils.  My friend had recommended them and I wanted something new for my evening salad so I decided to give them a whirl.  Four weeks and many many salads later I still have half of the bag left (it was a huge quantity for $4).  What to do with an excess of pea tendrils?  Try a saute!  This is now my new favorite side dish.  I loved it first try.  This is one of those loose and fast recipes so feel free to wing it on the quantities.

serves 1-2  they do shrink as they cook not as much as spinach but quite a bit

1-2 handfuls of pea tendrils
small wedge of lemon
1-2T good olive oil
1 small clove garlic or generous pinch of minced garlic from a jar
pinch sea salt
pinch fresh ground pepper

  1. Tear the tendrils into bite size pieces.  The lovely curly ends, leaves and stems are all edible.
  2. Heat oil in pan and add minced garlic and saute lightly.
  3. Add pea tendrils and saute until just wilted.
  4. Add a squeeze of  lemon and the salt and pepper.  Stir to incorporate ingredients.
  5. Serve hot.  YUM!!
A few useful links:
Wakefield Farmer's Market : my local market
Local Harvest: easy way to find farmer's markets, farm stands and crop shares in your area
Flats Mentor Farm: the Asian specialty farm; look for the free downloadable recipe book

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pen and Pantry

One of my Facebook pals posted what appeared to be a simple request:  "OK, does anyone have any suggestions for how to make Doing The Grocery List and Meal Planning go a little bit more easily?"  Turns out the answers is a tad more complicated than I thought.

Like me she is challenged with chronic illness so memory, cognition and ease of use all come in to play here.

I have been cooking for roughly 40 years and grocery shopping for 35 years so I've been through several iterations of organization. I've used card files and binders and preprinted lists.  So after 35 years and lots   of trial and error the system I use now while not perfect, works for me.   Everyone is different so use this as a starting point and rearrange as you see fit.  

The first step is getting organized.  This takes a bit of work but it pays off in the long run since it makes taking weekly inventory much much easier.

  1. Put like items next to each other in the pantry and the fridge.  Cans of soup on one shelf and bags of rice and pasta on another.
  2. Pick out your favorite cookbooks and put sticky markers on the recipes that you like or want to try or print out the recipes from the internet for the week.  I've started keeping my internet printouts in a three ring binder.
  3. I often borrow cookbooks from the library.  If I like lots of recipes from it then I buy my own copy from Amazon.  The first thing I do when I receive them is put sticky markers in it.  I've also traded cookbooks I no longer use with my foodie friends and I get a free "new" cookbook in exchange.
  4. Once a year remove items from your pantry that haven't been used and donate them to the food pantry.  This keeps stuff from expiring and slows down food hording.  I kid you not, when I cleaned out my MIL kitchen, I found jello packets from the 1970s and cans of vegetables that were ready to explode (the ends of the tins were pushed out). 
  5. Once a month remove the bio experiments from the fridge.  When I was well I used to do this weekly but now it occurs every other month or so and yes sometimes a hazmat suit is required.

Okay.  Now you are somewhat organized.  You have cookbooks and recipes you like.  Your food is organized now you are all set to start a routine of some sort.  In my case (when I'm well enough) I sit down once a week and come up with three meals to cook from "scratch" and a couple of emergency backups.

What do I mean?  The from scratch meals are the ones from the recipes and cookbooks.  The emergency meals are wicked easy meals that I don't need a recipe for and that can sit on a fridge shelf for several weeks without going bad, such as hermetically sealed ham for a ham and bean dinner or hermetically sealed pulled pork for pulled pork sandwiches.  Cans of soup and chili are other good emergency foods.

Here are the steps for the once a week sit down:
  1. Decide on the meals and make an ingredient list from the recipes.
  2. Write down on a separate list the meal name, cookbook name and page number if applicable.  (this is because my memory is now so bad and I have so many cookbooks I often can't remember where the damn recipe is that I want to cook)
  3. Here is where the pantry organization comes in
    1. Take inventory of what you have.
    2. Compare it to the ingredient list.
    3. Make a grocery list of what is missing.
  4. Then go through the other meals:  What is missing for breakfast, lunch, snacks, cats, household items?
  5. One of the weirdo things I do with my shopping list is divide it up into six boxes representing the different departments: produce, meats, dairy, canned goods, frozen, other.  This stops me from finding something at the bottom of my list that sits next to the market entrance where I came in an hour ago.  At least when I skip an item I don't make it out of the isle before figuring out I have to turn around and go back.
Once you do this for a while you'll figure out which recipes you make frequently and what you go through often.  I keep certain items stocked on the shelves that I know I'll use sometime in the next few weeks.  This allows me to adjust for company; give my kid free range to cook for himself and be spontaneous if I feel like it.  Keeping stocked up on staples also allows you to pick these up in bulk or on sale.

Here is a partial list of my pantry staples:
  • Rice: brown, white, basmati, wild rice mix, risotto mixes and Lundberg rice mixes.
  • Pastas: GF and regular elbows, ziti and spaghetti
  • Cooking oils: olive, grape, coconut and special fancy dipping oil for bread
  • Cooking wines and vinegars: white, sherry, Marsala, Bragg's apple cider
  • Canned veg: pasta sauce, toms, tomato paste, beets, black beans, northern white beans, lentils, jalapenos
  • Canned fruit: pears, peaches, cranberry sauce
  • Other cans: soups, evaporated milk (for a specific recipe that I make often)
  • Aseptic packages: chicken stock, soups and gravies
  • Freezer: diced onion, sliced carrots, green beans, corn, peas, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, garlic cubes
  • Baking shelf: sugars, flours, corn starch, etc
Remember any new habit takes about a month to take hold so keep at it for 30 days and then rearrange to suit yourself.

And now for some shortcuts.  

Hang a white board near the fridge or pantry and write down stuff as you use it up. I've found this to be a fantastic memory aid.

If you shop through an online delivery service such as Peapod they will keep your grocery lists for you.  You can use this as a memory aid to check your invenotry and see if you need to restock.

Make extra and either freeze it or eat it for lunch the next day.  If you make a roast buy a large one and then use the extra for a different meal the next day such as tacos or stew.

Also, while doing research for this blog post I found The Ultimate Grocery List here courtesy of  Love the sense of humor.  Check out the 'carcinogens" list.  If you Google grocery lists under images there are tons to choose from or you can go high tech and use your crackberry.

Remember if something isn't working for you, sit back and think about how it isn't working and then change it to suit you.  Play with things.  I came up with the emergency meals for those unexpected days when I don't have the energy to make even a simple meal.  I use the meal list with references because of my crappy memory."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuna Salad

I just invented this one today.  The flavors complement each other so nicely I wanted to share.   This salad goes great with a glass of nice cold carrot juice.

serves 1

1 egg
several handfuls of spring mix salad greens
feta cheese crumbles
1/2 small tin tuna; oil or water packed; dolphin safe of course
dried dill weed
fresh ground pepper
Newman's Own Family Italian Dressing

  1. Bring water to full boil then gently place egg in water so it won't crack.  I use a spoon to carefully lower it into the pot.
  2. Boil egg for ten minutes exactly.  Use a timer.
  3. Rinse egg under cold water for a bit then place it in a bowl of cool water while you make the rest of the salad.  You can make the egg ahead of time but I love having a slightly warm egg with my salad.
  4. Cover plate with a generous portion of spring mix
  5. sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles
  6. Flake tuna and place in a pile on the middle of the greens.
  7. Sprinkle generously with dill and fresh cracked pepper.
  8. Sprinkle with dressing.
  9. Remove egg from water bath and peel. 
  10. Cut into four piece and arrange around the edge of the salad.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Salad

I love salad.  I didn't used to but then I discovered Spring Mix which used to be called Mesclun Mix.  I love this stuff.  I've never been a fan of iceberg lettuce and now that I make my salads with other greens I adore them.  Here is a nice easy summer salad that required no chopping.  NONE!  How easy is that!?!

serves 1

2 handfuls of Spring Mix Organic salad out of a box/bag
Sprinkling of chopped walnuts
Sprinkling of Crasins
Sprinkling of organic goat cheese crumbles
Newman's Own Raspberry and Walnut Dressing
Fresh cracked pepper

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuna Poached in Olive Oil

I was dubious about this one.  I found several recipes on the internet for this with most of them requiring an hour of poaching time.  From poaching salmon I thought this a bit odd so I came up with my own recipe and 20 minutes results in nicely cooked fish from a frozen slab with next to no prep time.  You don't even have to defrost the fish!

When I tasted it I was blown away.  This is really good!!  I'm not a huge tuna fan but this tastes wonderful.

If you like your tuna on the rare side, use sushi grade tuna and cook for 5 minutes per side.  If you cook it from frozen put it into the oil while the oil is still cold otherwise the oil will spray all over the place as the ice boils off.  Very dangerous!!  So put the frozen fish in the oil, put on the pan cover then heat.   Using a clear pan lid lets you keep an eye on what is going on inside the pan without having to lift the lid.

serves 1-4

1/2 - 1c good quality olive oil  (I used Spectrum Organic Mediterranean Olive Oil)
sprig of fresh rosemary or 1/2t dried
several sprigs of thyme or 1/4t dried
crushed clove of garlic
generous pinch salt & pepper
1-4 tuna steaks (I used albacore cut about 3/4" thick)

  1. You'll need a heavy skillet with a lid for this.  Fill with about 1/2" of olive oil.
  2. Add seasoning and fish.
  3. Cover and heat on low so the oil just bubbles.  I used a clear lid so this was easy to monitor.  I started at a higher temp and as the oil heated up I kept turning it down so it stayed at a nice low simmer.
  4. Cook for ten minutes on each side.
  5. Use pan lid as a shield in case you drop the fish into the oil and splatter.  There is nothing worse than hot oil burns.   And yes, I did drop the cooked steak.  It fell apart as I was trying to get it out of the pan.
Serving suggestions:
  • Serve hot with rice and garlic green beans or asparagus.
  • Serve hot with a large spring mix salad with a light dressing.
  • Tuna can be stored in the cooking oil and then served up flaked on top of salad.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Orange Cranberry Pork Roast

I am so happy I can finally post this recipe.  I have managed to tinker with it enough that it can be considered almost my own.  The original recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks and I highly recommend it:  Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O'Dea. 

All variations of this has been gobbled up by my family.   It is supposed to feed four but between the three of us and the cat there isn't enough left for a fourth person.

It looks complicated but it is really easy to put together and of course it is a slow cooker recipe so you can go rest for at least three hours before having to get up to make some frozen veg for sides.

serves 3-4

2-3lb pork loin roast
1t powdered ginger
2T cornstarch (preferably organic GMO free)
1/4t pepper
1-2T whole grain mustard
generous pinch Celtic sea salt
1c fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2c sucanat
1 clove crushed garlic or 1/4t of minced garlic out of a jar
1/3c orange juice
3-4 thin slices of fresh orange
2-3c coarsely diced sweet potato
  1. Put the cornstarch, ginger and pepper in a gallon ziplock bag and mix thoroughly.
  2. Grease slow cooker with some olive oil.
  3. Rinse and pat dry pork roast.
  4. Put roast in ziplock bag and shake around to coat all sides with cornstarch mixture.
  5. Place roast in slow cooker fat side up.  Dump all extra cornstarch mixture into slow cooker with the roast.  This will act as thickener for the gravy that forms.
  6. Paint mustard on top of roast with a knife.  Adjust amount to personal taste.
  7. Put cranberries, juice, sugar, salt, garlic on either side of roast.
  8. Lay orange slices along top of roast neatly.  This makes for a nice presentation later in addition to flavoring the roast itself.
  9. Layer potatoes along each side of the roast.
  10. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.
  11. Remove roast and put it on serving platter.  Surround with potatoes and cranberries.
  12. Scoop out sauce and put it in a gravy seperator and let sit for a few minutes.  Pour off into gravy boat leaving fat behind.  Put a few cranberries in for interest.
  13. Serve with green beans or carrots.  YUM!!
If the roast hasn't been frozen by the supermarket it literally falls apart when cooked.  I've often removed it from the cooker in pieces.  This is hands down the best pork roast I've ever had.  Even my cat thinks so.

Scallop and Leak Soup

I can't believe I haven't posted for a month.  I had a real bad reaction to The Diet From Hell.  I'm just starting to feel a little better.  This illness just rips time away so fast.  Too make up for my absence I have two new recipes, Scallop and Leak Soup and Orange Cranberry Pork Roast.

The soup is a variation on Icky Tummy Soup.   It is a basic broth with contents that can be tinkered with endlessly.  The broth has to be light so as not to take away from the flavor of the contents.  My favorite broth is Pacific Foods which I cut with water.  Swanson makes a decent broth that is a cheaper but non organic alternative.  I don't think the Swanson would need to be cut with water however.  Another alternative is saving up home made broth and freezing it for later use.  Again this is light enough that it doesn't need to be cut.  Or at least mine is anyway.

serves 1

1/2c Pacific Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth + 3/4c water
2c chicken broth

1t GF Tamari sauce
generous pinch of salt
2" length of leak
1" cube of fresh ginger or 1/2t of minced ginger out of a jar
1/4t of minced garlic out of a jar
6 large scallops
handful of rice stick noodles

  1. Put broth, water, tamari, garlic, salt in pan and bring to boil.
  2. Cut leak into matchsticks or rounds or half moons and add to broth.
  3. Cut fresh ginger into skinny matchsticks and add to broth.
  4. Add scallops.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes.  I used frozen scallops so they took about five minutes to cook through.  Scallops are easy to overcook and become tough and chewy.  To check fish one out and cut in half.  It should no longer be translucent in the center.
  6. Taste broth and adjust seasoning to taste.  I like ginger and garlic and soy so I'm heavy handed with these.
  7. Toss in the rice stick noodles.  The soup is done when the noodles go soft which happens in seconds.

Variations on a Theme
  • Add some lemongrass matchsticks.
  • No leaks?  Use scallions instead.
  • Sprinkle fresh parsley leaves on top.
  • Use other fish such as Salmon, Halibut and/or shrimp.  They can be combined for extra awesomeness. If using a larger piece of frozen fish adjust cooking time.  Fish will flake easily with a fork when done.
  • Use tofu instead of fish.  Not completely vegetarian but tastes good none the less.
  • Use leftover or frozen rice instead of noodles.  Just add prior to adding fish.  Not overcooking the fish is very important to the quality of this dish.
  • You can also use Udon or Soba noodles instead of the rick stick but these contain wheat.  Add them at the appropriate time to let them cook through without over cooking the fish.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Grilled Chicken

Since vinegars and tomatoes are now on my forbidden list, my favorite grilled dishes are now off limits.  Fortunately, Annie's Lemon and Chive Salad Dressing is on my edible list and I like it!

serves 1

1 chicken breast (I just separate mine from my family's food)
1T Annie's Lemon and Chive Dressing
1T olive oil
  1. In a glass dish or ziplock baggie, mix dressing and oil well.
  2. Add chicken and coat thoroughly.
  3. Let sit for 10 mins or put in fridge until ready to grill.
  4. Grill ~5 mins per side.  Adjust cooking time to grill temp and chicken thickness.
Serve with sides or on top of salad.  Tastes great cold the next day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Almond Oatmeal

About 30 years ago I was reading a science fiction novel where the main characters ate a nut porridge for their main meal and this gave me the idea for an oatmeal modification that I use to this day.  My normal recipe involves using milk instead of water as the cooking liquid and adding vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon to it along with nuts, seeds and raisins.  Over the years I've used walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds or whatever I happen to have in the cupboard at the time.  I love this porridge and it has become a family favorite.

Now that I'm on The Diet From Hell I've had to modify my beloved oatmeal recipe.  After a few iterations I've come up with a yummy substitute, Almond Oatmeal.  The only bummer about this recipe is that you really need to stand and stir this so it won't stick and I have huge problems standing in one spot as many CFSers do.  Feel free to drag a stool over to the stove to sit while stirring.

A few notes regarding the recipe.  This is based on Bob's Red Mill oats.  Alter the liquid amount and cooking time to the oats you are using.  The amount of both the vanilla and butter can be tinkered with to your preference.  I love both so I tend to add a lot of each to the oatmeal.  The butter not only adds a huge amount of flavor to this but also adds good fat and nut protein to the meal.  This helps balance out blood sugar, helps with mouth feel and taste of the dish and keeps you feeling full a bit longer.  If you leave off the jam this is a low glycemic index dish.

serves 1

1/2 GF rolled oatmeal
1c unsweetened almond milk
1/4t vanilla powder (might have to order on line as it is hard to find)
1-2T plain almond butter
1-2T fruit only spread (optional: my fav is strawberry)
pinch sea salt

  1. Bring milk and salt to boil.
  2. Add vanilla, oats and almond butter.  Stir thoroughly to fully incorporate the butter.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Stir and cook 10 mins.  Stiring doesn't have to be continuous but the more often the better.
  5. Serve topped with jam.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Broiled Shrimp

I had this for breakfast the other day.  My body needs high quality protein and without tofu as a substitute for the dairy I'd normally use I'm down to pure animal protein.  Anyway, this is a recipe for one person and can be used for any meal or served over salad.

serves 1

6 lg or colossal deveined defrosted uncooked shrimp
1T olive oil

  1. Rinse and thoroughly dry shrimp with a paper towel.
  2. Put shrimp, olive oil, pinch salt, pinch pepper and pinch tarragon in a sealable sandwich bag. 
  3. Shake to evenly coat.
  4. Lay out on rack over a tin foil lined pan (less mess) or on an oiled foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Place near broiler (not too close or it will burn)
  6. Cook 3 mins, flip over and cook another 3mins.
Variations:  garlic, lemon, marjoram, dill are also fine options.  Garlic burns easily so make sure you aren't too close to the heating element if you are using the real deal instead of garlic powder or garlic salt.

Note: I like using my toaster oven for this cuz I can watch them cook and make sure they aren't getting burned.  However, I found the cooking time to be a bit longer since I start it off cold.  It took between 5-10 and I didn't flip the shrimp because I used a rack instead of a sheet.  They were wonderful!!

The Diet From Hell

Just when I had my diet tweaked out to give me the max amount of energy, no blood sugar spikes and to maximize the possibility of actually falling asleep at night my new nutritionist has thrown a wrench in the works.   She has put me on an elimination diet to check for food allergies/sensitivities.  I'm not going to get into this much here since this is my food blog.  Suffice it to say this has been a difficult several weeks for me and I'm reacting badly to the change in diet.  Welcome to the wonderful world of CFS.  Anyway, I wanted to say that the next handful of posts will be a direct result of my experimenting with cooking without the following list of foods:

Gluten (wheat, barley, rye, contaminated oats)
Sugar in any form
Vinegars or anything fermented
Fungi (mushrooms)
Artificial anything: coloring, flavoring, additives
Dried fruits: raisins, mango, apple, etc
Nightshade vegetables: tomato, white potato, eggplant, peppers

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Helping Hand

I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Osteoarthritis of the spine.  On bad days I can barely hold up a lettuce leaf never mind standing there holding up a mixer or try to pour boiling water out of a heavy pot.  I started this blog to help others that are ill still be able to cook.  While recipes are great, kitchen tools are also needed.  I know I dusted off my crockpot after being sick.  I found I had more energy to cook in the morning that at dinner time.  It has been a godsend.  I also use my stand mixer, blender, mandolin slicer, food processor and any other gadget that makes my life in the kitchen easier.    So here are some cool things I've just found:

Jug Tipper for Cold Items

Tipper for hot items

Rolling Trivet: It has ball bearing under it so you just roll the pot around the counter without lifting

Jar Opener: I have the Oxo Good Grips version and I LOVE it

For those times when you have to cook from a seated position
 Most of these items I found at Peterson Medical  I haven't shopped their myself yet but they have lots of assitive technology for all sorts of things.  I've only listed a few of the kitchen things here.  There are items for other things such as bath items and wheelchair accessories.
I also love anything by Oxo Good Grips.  I have their garlic press and jar opener.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I've had to go on a slight hiatus.  As part of this illness I seem to have lost both my sense of smell and sense of taste.  All I can taste now is salt.  This makes cooking a challenge and I refuse to rely on my husband's palate to determine if a new recipe is blog worthy.  As soon as I can taste food again I'll post some more of my experiments.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ham and Potato Bake

I meant to post this weeks ago when I first made it but I've been dealing with some health issues.  I hope I can remember all the modifications that I made to the original recipe because the one I made came out fantastic.  The original recipe is in an ancient cookbook I inherited from my Mom, The Pillsbury Family Cookbook published in 1963.  They loved their pimentos back then!

Everything except the cheese sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for a day or two.  Just heat the ingredients up in the microwave before using them in the recipe.

serves 3-4

~2 c cooked ham (I just cooked up a ham steak that I got prepackaged at the supermarket)
1-2c peas
2 medium potatoes
1t parsley
1t marjoram
1/4c diced onion (frozen is fine)
2T butter
2T olive oil
1-2T corn starch
2c milk
1/2c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4c  shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4c grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat oven to 350F and grease a  2qt casserole dish.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes into bite sized pieces.  Boil in water with peas until just fork tender. Drain.  It is better if the potatoes are just slightly under done since they will continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Fry up ham steak and then cut into bite sized cubes removing extra fat and center bone.  Set aside.
  4. In same frying pan add butter and oil.  Fry up onions.  Use a spoon to free up bits stuck to bottom of pan.
  5. While onions are cooking, mix 1/4c of the milk with the cornstarch, stir until well mixed and set aside.
  6. When onions are soft, add remainder of milk along with the cheeses to pan.  Also add herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir constantly and do NOT let it come to a boil. 
  7. Once cheese is melted, whisk the cornstarch mixture again to make sure it isn't lumpy and slowly add it to cheese mix while stirring constantly.  Continue to stir until mixture thickens and immediately remove from heat.
  8. Put potatoes, peas and ham in casserole dish.  Pour cheese mixture over it.
  9. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore

I've adapted my old Cacciatore recipe for use in the slow cooker.  I've used this recipe for so long I forget where I got the original from.  You can stretch this recipe with a side salad and extra rice or pasta and some bread.  Of course it tastes even better the second day after all the flavors have time to meld together. 

serves 4-6

~2lbs of chicken pieces (legs or thighs preferably bone in)
26oz can Hunts Tomato Sauce Plain
1 small can tomato paste (I like Contadina.  It is less acidic.)
medium onion
1 small carton sliced mushrooms (I prefer criminis but buttons are fine)
1 small bag peeled baby carrots
1 small bag frozen peas
1-2T good olive oil
1T oregano dried
1t basil dried
1t thyme dried
1t parsley dried
1 large bay leaf
1-3 cloves garlic (to taste)
salt & pepper

  1. Pour olive oil in slow cooker and grease the inside of the pot with it.
  2. Coarsely chop onion.  Not too fine or it will disappear into the sauce.  Put in bottom of pot.
  3. Layer in the carrots and mushrooms.
  4. Skin chicken if necessary and cut off any extra fat. Layer on top of vegetables.
  5. In bowl, mix together the Hunts sauce, paste and all the herbs and spices including the garlic.  Fill the Hunts tin half way with water, swish around to get all the good stuff out, add to bowl and stir in.
  6. Pour sauce over chicken.
  7. Cook on high for 3-4 hours depending upon chicken chunk sizes.
  8. Half hour before finishing add peas and stir in.  Cook on high for last half hour.
  9. Remove bay leaf.
  10. Remove bones if you are so inclined.  Not necessary if there isn't company though.
  11. Serve with pasta or over brown rice.
  12. Leftovers taste great and can be frozen.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I actually have several versions of this recipe that range from super easy to a little on the fussy side but seriously yummy.  I'll start with the easy version and work my way up in difficulty. 

The chicken can always be cooked separately and stored in the fridge making the cooking day of a bit easier.  I wish I could remember the name of making chicken this way.  The traditional method is to quarter a fresh onion, and then throw in a couple of sticks of celery and a whole carrot maybe cut in two so it fits in the pot along with peppercorns and bay leaf and of course chicken.  Cover with water and boil until it falls apart.  The vegetables and spices are there to give the chicken some extra flavor and are disposed of when the chicken is done.  I believe it is a French thing but I learned it so long ago I don't remember.  Chicken made this way also makes excellent chicken salad so keep any leftovers for lunch the next day.

I've also heard of people buying a rotisserie chicken and shredding the meat off that.   I've never tried this myself since boiling chicken tenders is fairly simple and there are no bones or left overs to contend with. 

I've been very lax with amounts for the recipes because this is really a to taste recipe. 

Super Easy Version
makes 1

GF tortilla shell (rice or corn)
Olive oil
Perdue Short Cuts Carved Chicken Breast
Shredded Mexican cheese
Sour cream
  1. Heat a skillet on stove
  2. Moisten a paper towel with the olive oil and use to lightly grease the outside only of the tortilla shell.
  3. Place greased side down in skillet
  4. Put cheese on one half of shell (it is important to do this first since it will melt and keep things together when you go to flip the quesadilla over).  If you are using the small corn ones just cover the entire thing with cheese and then add a second tortilla after putting chicken on.
  5. Put chicken on top
  6. Fold shell in half and brown bottom or top with a second tortilla shell.
  7. Flip over and brown top half.
  8. Serve hot with sour cream and guacamole on the side

Healthy version
serves 2-3 people

~1 lb of  chicken tenders (raw)
celery flakes
dried onion
1 bay leaf
1 carrot (optional)
garlic clove
Shredded Mexican cheese
GF tortilla shells (rice or corn)
Sour cream
  1. Boil chicken with celery, onion peppercorns, bay leaf and garlic (these can be dried or fresh and the quantity isn't really important about 1-2t of each.  You can also throw a carrot in there if it is kicking around) until falling apart
  2. Remove chicken making sure the onions and spices stay in the pot.  Shred chicken.  The chicken can now be stored in the fridge and you can make the quesadillas later, even the next day.
  3. Heat dry skillet on stove.
  4. Moisten a paper towel with the olive oil and use to lightly grease the outside only of the tortilla shell.
  5. Place greased side down in skillet
  6. Put cheese on one half of shell (it is important to do this first since it will melt and keep things together when you go to flip the quesadilla over)
  7. Put chicken on top
  8. Fold shell in half and brown bottom
  9. Flip over and brown top half.
  10. Serve hot with sour cream and guacamole on the side

Fancy Version
serves 4-6

1/2c white or brown rice
1c water
1/2 can black beans rinsed
1c frozen corn
1t cilantro
1/4c frozen diced onion
~1lb raw chicken tenders
dried onion flakes
celery flakes
1 bay leaf
1 carrot (optional)
olive oil
Shredded Mexican cheese
sour cream
  1. Put rice, beans, water, onion, corn and cilantro in rice cooker.  Put on cover and cook.
  2. While this is cooking make the chicken:
    1. Boil chicken with celery, onion peppercorns, bay leaf and garlic (these can be dried or fresh and the quantity isn't really important about 1-2t of each.  You can also throw a carrot in there if it is kicking around) until falling apart
    2. Remove chicken making sure the onions and spices stay in the pot.  Shred chicken.  The chicken can now be stored in the fridge and you can make the quesadillas later, even the next day.
  3. When both the rice and chicken are done heat the dry skillet on the stove.
  4. Moisten a paper towel with the olive oil and use to lightly grease the outside only of the tortilla shell.
  5. Place greased side down in skillet
  6. Put cheese on one half of shell (it is important to do this first since it will melt and keep things together when you go to flip the quesadilla over)
  7. Put chicken on top
  8. The rice mix can either be put into the quesadilla at this point or served on the side.
  9. Fold shell in half and brown bottom or top with second tortilla shell
  10. Flip over and brown top half.
  11. Serve hot with sour cream and guacamole on the side
Of course if you want to make a vegetarian version increase the beans and leave out the chicken.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Black and White Chilli

I made a mild version of this since my tummy can't handle spices since I've been sick.  I've adapted the recipe from "Black and White Chicken Chili" in Cook's Country Lost Recipes.  Not sure if the edition on Amazon is the same as what I got in the mail.  Mine is in the style of a magazine and was a freebie when I got some cookbooks.

Anyway, this dish was a total hit in my house.  I had two bowls myself.  I just wish I had some GF cornbread to go with it.  That would have been perfect!  Instead we had it with Cheesy Bread.

serve 4-6

1pkg of four bone in chicken thighs
1c diced frozen onion
1 1/2c frozen corn
1can (15.5oz) cannellini beans
1can (15.5oz) black beans
1c Pacific Foods organic chicken broth
1c water
1jar (16oz) salsa (mild, medium or spicy as you wish)
4 cloves garlic or equivalent from a jar or two cubes frozen
1 1/2t ground cumin
1 1/2r dried oregano
1t dried cilantro
salt and pepper

  1. Skin chicken and remove excess fat
  2. Spray slow cooker with no stick oil.
  3. Place onion and frozen corn in bottom of slow cooker.
  4. Rinse and drain both cans of beans and add to slow cooker
  5. Place chicken on top
  6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cumin, oregano and cilantro
  7. Mix broth, water, salsa and garlic together in bowl and pour over chicken
  8. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  9. Remove chicken and remove meat from bone.  Return meat to pot.
  10. Enjoy!
Note: if you use a regular broth like Swanson's use 2 cups and skip the water.  Pacific Foods broth is very concentrated so I usually cut it with water so it doesn't overpower the dish.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pulled Chicken Sandwich

This is a super simple dinner to make.  You cook the chicken in a slow cooker for three hours and then do some minor assembly work.  The original recipe called for a half cup of vinegar but I found this to overpower the dish so in this version I've left it out.  If you like vinegar and want to counter balance the sweetness of the coleslaw by all means add it to the crock pot along with the BBQ sauce.  Since hubby doesn't like coleslaw I left it off his but he said that some pepperjack cheese would be a nice addition.  This can be served with green salad and french fries.

serves 4

1-2lbs bone in chicken thighs (4 pieces)
1/4c frozen onion diced
1 1/4c favorite BBQ sauce (I like Annie's original with sweet & spicy being my second favorite)
1t -1T hot sauce (optional:I left this out)
medium sized deli container of coleslaw (try to find stuff without HFCS)
Favorite GF hamburger buns

  1. Strip skin off chicken and cut away extra fat.
  2. Spray no stick in slow cooker and put onion in first and then layer chicken on top.
  3. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix BBQ sauce with hot sauce and pour over chicken.
  5. Cook on high for three hours. 
  6. Remove chicken pieces from sauce strip from bone and return to pot.
  7. I get my GF buns frozen so this is the point where I defrost them in the microwave.
  8. Put chicken on bun, add coleslaw on top.
  9. Enjoy!
  1. Top with pepperjack cheese instead of slaw
  2. Make with pork instead of chicken

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kiwi Dessert

This is one of my favorite fruit desserts.  Easy to make and can be served after a meal or makes a great low GI (glycemic index) between meal snack.

serves 1

1 kiwi
1/2 banana
1c organic lemon yogurt (NOT custard style)

Peel kiwi and slice.  Slice banana.  Stir fruit into yogurt.

Other fruits can be used such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries.  When using berries make sure to wash and dry them first.  Different yogurt flavors can be used as well.  Vanilla is my second favorite flavor for this dessert but really anything goes.  If you can eat wheat, graham crackers go really well with this and are a nice compliment to the lemon flavor.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Turkey Mess

This is a recipe that I've used for over 18 years now.  The real title should be Pasta Sauce with Ground Turkey but hubby dubbed it Turkey Mess and the name stuck. I think I got the original recipe from the Nautilus Diet Cookbook but of course I've tinkered with it beyond recognition of the original.  

You can use all white or all dark meat.  The dark meat has a bit more fat so it is more flavorful.  In either case it is still leaner than using ground beef which would also work in this recipe.  I tend to use a 93% white/7% dark mix because that is what my local market sells prepackaged.  If I'm in Whole Foods I always use all dark.  If the meat has been frozen, I find that the turkey is much tougher and looses much of its water content during cooking, which has to be drained off.  It tastes much better if the meat is fresh.  As for the herbs, onions and mushrooms I've used fresh, dried and/or frozen all of which work.  Fresh or frozen taste best.  Dried works in a pinch. You can always buy fresh presliced which is a huge time/energy saver and tastes great.  If you can find Dorot frozen garlic and herbs they are wonderful.  I know Trader Joes usually has them but I've also found them in various markets.  They make a great pantry item so you don't have to chop fresh stuff but still have the great taste.  One warning though, the garlic is atomic.  You only need one cube because it is really strong.

Serves 3-4

1lb ground turkey
1/4-1/2c diced onion
1-2c sliced mushrooms (regular or baby bellas also known as criminis)
1-3 bulbs garlic (or 1 frozen cube)
1-2T good olive oil
1 jar Newman's Marinara Sauce
1/2t oregano
1/4t basil
1/4t thyme
1 large bay leaf
1t parsley
1c sweet peas (optional)

  1. Heat large non stick frying pan with olive oil until the oil shimmers
  2. Press garlic and add to pan along with onion.  Saute until onion is translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms and saute until just starting to brown.  Move to outside edge of pan.
  4. Add turkey meat to center of pan and break up with spoon as it is browning.  If meat was frozen you will have to drain off some of the liquid prior to proceeding with the next step.
  5. When meat is still slightly pink add entire jar of sauce.  Fill jar 1/3 up with water swish to dissolve remaining in jar and then add to turkey mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Add peas if using.  Let mixture some to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
  6. Add all the herbs and spices.
  7. Let simmer while pasta is cooking for about 5 minutes or so.  Use a spatter screen to keep stove top clean.  Save those spoons!
  8. Serve hot with favorite pasta.  My preference is Rigatoni or Ziti It is also good on top of brown rice.  Don't forget to take out the bay leaf prior to serving.  Our favorite sides are baby carrots or green beans and green salad.
  9. The leftovers taste even better the next day.  They can also be frozen for later.

I can vouch for this pan.  It is worth the money since it is my workhorse in the kitchen.  I discovered spatter screens a few years back and LOVE them.  It allows the sauce to simmer and reduce without the cooktop getting caked in tomato spatter.

I guess the cookbook is out of print but available used.  It is worth purchasing one.  It has lots of very tasty recipes in it and I used it to learn low fat cooking.  That said my food philosophy has changed since then and I believe that there is such a thing as good fats and bad fats so I use olive oil in my cooking now and won't touch margarine with a ten foot pole.  The cookbook is also NOT GF so if you get a copy you will need to make substitutions if you are Celiac or not eating wheat.  The book itself is interesting since it is a combination workout book, recipe book and has weekly menus with the calorie counts already done for you.  It was written by the guy that has a PhD in PE and 2 years of post doc in Nutrition and was the Director of Research for Nautilus Sports.  He knows bodies and how they work.  This is the ONLY formal diet I have ever followed and I did very well on it 17 years ago.  I stopped following it when I got pregnant but the cooking style stuck with me and I still use several of the recipes in it.