Reblog

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/food-politic/this-is-why-youre-bad-at-_b_4784159.html?utm_hp_ref=food&ir=Food

I love this article and this is exactly how I feel about food and eating. Eat things that make you feel good and take your time preparing them.
“I don’t want to sit down in front of a plate of nutrients. I don’t even want to get my recommended daily intake in the form of disparate foods. I want composition and cuisine and history in my food. I want something that’s been recipe-tested over the centuries — the dish that stood the test of time.”

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Love People. Cook them tasty food-a note on what makes food ‘healthy’

If you were wondering how I consider this a healthy food blog while simultaneously extolling the beauty of goose fat, bacon, and cream…you would not be the first. I wanted to clarify my idea of what healthy food is so I can stop defending my use of bacon and butter. 🙂 Don’t make me stop using bacon and butter!!!

To me healthy food is not restrictive. It is not painful or a punishment. In my opinion, what makes food healthy, is the entire process…from an idea to sourcing ingredients and shopping for them, to cooking them with love, and to serving them to your family over conversation. I don’t think chocolate chip cookies are unhealthy per se. I think that our culture of instant gratification is unhealthy. You can think to yourself, ‘I’m really craving a cookie’ and within 5 minutes you can have a foil/plastic wrapped, trans-fat laden, stale and tasteless chocolate chip cookie in your hand. This is unhealthy in my veiw. As opposed to thinking “mmm, I’m really craving a cookie’ and taking the time to find ingredients (hopefully the best available), weigh out the ingredients, taste the dough, smell the cookies baking, watch them puff up and melt in the oven, wait for them to cool, and then taste them.

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Eating is a sensory pleasure and we should enjoy it as much as possible. That means turning off your tv, ditching the packaged foods, and preparing things that you are craving so that every sense can take advantage of the process; smelling, seeing, touching, listening, and finally tasting. Think about the way a baby experiences food rather than just eating it. The pic below is Sweet P at around 11 months eating watermelon for the first time. She is seriously into it in every way. It is all over her face, squeezed between her little fingers, in her hair, dribbling down her chin, etc and she could not be more thrilled. I’m not saying you should need a bib to eat, but try to think about the pleasure that food could bring you if you appreciate it as if it were the first time.

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The process of shopping, sourcing, gardening, growing, raising, gathering, prepping, cooking, and plating adds so much to the gratification of the final product. Rather than finishing off your ‘cheap’ store bought cookie in 1 minute and getting a quick and shallow satisfaction, try earning the cookie. By the time you’ve bought all of the ingredients, and prepared them, the taste of the fruits of your labor will be that much better. By choosing the ingredients yourself and taking care to use grass-fed butters/sustainable fats or oils, fair-trade chocolate, etc you are in control. While a cookie is a cookie, and not a great meal choice, the cookie is NOT the enemy. A cookie (or insert guilty pleasure here) should be enjoyed and not feared.

Another note: there are small local business that use the best ingredients. Try to find those suppliers that you trust to give you the best possible product if you need the convenience of pre-made goods. One of our favorites is Penny Lick Ice Cream Company based out of Westchester, NY. Penny Lick’s ice cream can be found at farmer’s markets throughout the summer months in Westchester and it is delicious and creamy, locally made, and also convenient. Check out her website :

http://pennylickicecream.com/

and this photo of Sweet P enjoying her push pops:

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My dad used to flip out when we begged to eat dinner on paper plates (so we wouldn’t have to do the dishes) but as an adult with my own family, I can totally see where he was coming from. The meal is an experience and that goes from your plates and cutlery, to the lighting, the temperature of the food, etc. Things are just too convenient so we opt for the cheap, quick and easy while missing out on the best parts of having a meal together. I am not saying you have to hand milk the cow in your backyard and make pasta out of your own wheat field here…I am just saying to try and take part in the experience of making and eating food, rather than taking a back seat and letting big corporations do all the work.

The other part of making “healthy food” is how you eat it. We are so rushed in this country because everyone is working hard, struggling to get by and trying to take advantage of every minute of every day, we don’t have time to stop and smell the roses. We are all guilty of checking emails/texts during dinner with our kids but just think about the message that sends to your kids about meal times and about food; Food is not important, ingredients don’t matter, meal times are a rushed time to get busy work done rather than enjoy your meal and your company. If you can take 30 minutes to share in meal times with your kids, you will all get a lot more out of it than just food.

Have fun with meal time….have a glass of wine while you’re cooking and turn on some music. I love the Practical Magic soundtrack and right now, Tangled and Frozen are my daughter’s favorites. If you don’t have time to cook/eat together every night, aim for one or two nights a week and make it special. We only share space on this earth for a short time, treasure it.

Enjoy this photo of a bumper sticker I spotted outside a farmers market in Westchester this summer! xo, SW and Sweet P

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Spinach Dumplings in bone broth

 

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Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain “Spinach Dumplings”

Jamie uses the metric system so I will decode the recipe for all of you. He serves these spinach dumplings on top of Oxtail Stew which I’m sure would have been great too but I think it went really well with this brothy vegetable soup. This recipe makes enough for 2 big batches of soup. I cut the dough in half and froze the half I wasn’t using.

Put 200g (about half of a big box) of organic baby spinach leaves into your food processor and pulse until finely chopped

Add 3 tbsp butter and pulse

In a separate bowl combine (or have your toddler do this step) 500 g (roughly 4 cups but check your bag of flour…they are weighed in grams so you might have a 500g bag of flour) of SELF RISING flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp english DRY mustard powder (Colemans is great)

A few grates of fresh nutmeg

 

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Add the flour mixture to the spinach mixture and pulse until you have fine crumbs. I added the flour in 2 batches bc I didn’t think I would fit it all in but I did :).

Add between 100-200 ml of cold water a bit at a time and pulse until a loose but sticky dough comes together.

Turn the ‘dough’ out onto a floured surface and knead until it comes together (~1 minute.)

 

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Roll your dough into a long sausage shape and cut it into about 15 pieces. You can cut it as small or large as you want. I made 15 pieces for this soup but you could easily make mini-dumplings for more of a meatball size. Pippa helped me with this step…her little hands are perfect for making dumplings!You can make them round or leave them flat on top like I did…it’s all personal preference. I figured they would toast up a little better with a flat top so that’s why I left them but feel free to make round dumplings.

 

 

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Drop them into your hot soup. I used a broth like this one Perfect Fall Afternoon Vegetable Stock. In this particular soup, I used the bones that I had from my free range organic turkey from Thanksgiving to make stock. I chop fresh veggies: celery, carrots, onion, sweet potato and add frozen peas and thyme and let it simmer for a while on the stove. You can use whatever soup recipe you like. These dumplings would be nice on top of beef stew, a creamy chicken soup, etc.

Anyway, drop them in and put the soup pot into the oven at 350 (lid OFF) for about 30 minutes or until the top is toasty. The top of the dumpling will be toasted and the underside (cooked in the soup) will be soft and more like a Matzah Ball. If you prefer the dumplings fully steamed, rather than toasted on top, you can leave them to simmer on the stove for the same amount of time ~30 minutes.

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Add a shaving of peccorino and a crack of black pepper, serve it to your family and enjoy!

Sweet P gave this a rating of 5/5 and ate about 5 dumplings!

XO, SW and Sweet P

 

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Back-Blogged! A culinary journey through the UK! Beef Wellington and a note on Grass fed vs Grain fed beef

 

We spent our Christmas holiday in the UK this year visiting family and friends. While there, I decided to check out the differences in our food systems and explore whether or not big-agro companies had the same influence in the UK as they do in the US. The next few blog posts will hopefully shed a little light on the differences. Generally, I believe the English system is a little bit better but it is definitely in danger of turning into a mini-US with rising obesity rates, diabetes in children, and growing food insecurity. British Chef, Jamie Oliver and other chefs like him are certainly vocal about the declining quality of food in the UK but I wanted to see for myself.

Our good friends, Leighton and Leanne, had us over for dinner when we arrived in the valley. Leighton is really into cooking and he prepared this awesome Beef Wellington with butter-fried potatoes and broccolini. It was delicious and I was so happy to see pink in the middle! Leighton uses a variation of Gordon Ramsay’s wellington and it is awesome! I love the moment of truth when you slice into the browned pastry after it has rested to see if it is cooked OK! Check out Gordon Ramsay’s recipe below:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2538/beef-wellington

 

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For Dessert: Bread and Butter pudding with vanilla ice cream!

 

 

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and mulled wine (note to self: drink more mulled wine!)Image

 

The trick to a great beef wellington is a nice cut of meat; grass fed, pasture raised, and organic add to the flavor as well as the texture of the meat. Leighton and Leanne go to a butcher or their local market (bury market: post coming soon) to get their poultry, meat, etc but they admit that it is hard to resist going to the grocery store and skipping the butcher altogether. Leanne told me her mother still goes to the baker for her bread, the butcher for her meat, and makes about 5 stops before her groceries are all in hand. This is the way it used to be everywhere and unfortunately it is a dying practice. Convenience is our number one goal and therefore something has to give if everything has to be cheap and convenient.

Not only is it quality that we are missing out on by skipping the butcher/baker/candlestick maker, but also a sense of community. When you know your butcher, he gets to know you too. I went into a local butcher in town and loved it. The atmosphere was so great and the butcher could answer questions about anything in his case. He made conversation and helped people figure out the best way to cook the meat. Also, believe it or not, the meat was CHEAPER than it was in Tescos. This isn’t always the case but many people claim that the only way they can feed their family is through massive super market chains but I found this to be untrue. There are more cuts of meat available at the butcher, including the ‘less desirable’ but just as delicious cuts like chicken legs, thighs, offal, etc. The butcher can help you decide how to feed your family on a budget, while supporting your local economy at the same time.

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Grass fed meat in the UK is some of the best available. Because there is soooo much grass/greenery/pasture, the grass fed animals have layers of gorgeous fat that add to the flavor and texture. It is also higher in Omega-3 fatty acids because of the rich diet of clover and grass. There are 3 main types of saturated fats found in beef in particular: Stearic Acid (does not raise blood cholesterol) Palmitic and Myristic Acids (do raise blood cholesterol). In grass fed meat, the ratio of Stearic Acid (good):Palmitic and Myristic (bad) acids is higher as opposed to grain fed meat. Another difference is Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) levels in grass fed vs grain fed meat. CLA, which is produced by bacteria in the gut,  is a widely accepted antioxidant which protects us from diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. Grain fed animals do not have high levels of CLA because eating grain changes the pH of their stomach(s) and therefore creates an inhospitable gut for bacterial colonization. Grass fed meat also contains higher levels of vitamins and minerals (vit A, Beta Carotene, zinc, iron, potassium, etc.)

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While grass fed can be more expensive for sure, it is worth it. You are getting better tasting and healthier meat that is more nutritionally dense than it’s counterparts found at Tesco/Wal Mart/Stop and Shop/Asda/etc. It is also important to keep these farmers/butchers in business. You do NOT want to see what will happen when your only option is Asda/Walmart. Keep these farmers in business raising cattle in a humane and healthy way that is a win win for everyone, including the cattle. Keep your butcher in business so he can help support local ethical farms and let him know your preference for grass fed meat.

Thanks to Leighton and Leanne for feeding us and giving us the scoop on the local food scene! Love you guys!

xo, Sweet P and SW

 

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Jammin <3

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A delicious cranberry cocktail

http://acozykitchen.com/cranberry-thyme-gin-tonic/#more-17807

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I made it with vodka and seltzer instead of gin and tonic and it turned out beautiful and delicious!
Enjoy and Happy Holidays!!! SW

Check out that blog, soooo gorgeous!

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My Favorite Turkey Farm and the politics of turkey farming

Don’t forget small business Saturday today people!

Sweet P's Kitchen- #beautifulfood

For those of you that inquired about my turkeys, the farm is called Arch River Farm and it is in Milbrook, NY. Their website is:

http://www.archriverfarm.com/

They raised about 100 birds this year as well as pigs, cows, and some chickens. During growing season, they come to the White Plains Farmer’s Market and Milbrook Farmer’s Market. Their animals are pasture fed and raised “in comfort” which affords the best possible products.

Here is a brief bit about the difference between heritage birds and commercially raised turkeys. I am calling them butterballs but generally any supermarket brand will be of the same variety: the Broad Breasted White. This breed is owned by 3 multi-national corporations and has caused near extinction to every other breed of turkeys. Thanks to conservationists and local family farms, the heritage breeds are still around but they produce roughly 25,000/year as opposed to the broad breasted white’s…

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