Monday, June 27, 2016

Good To The Last: Chard Pesto on Toast

Using every last bit of the chard...
This may not be the prettiest thing to ever come out of my kitchen... but it's definitely one of the cheapest... and best tasting!

Today I have a couple of questions for you:
  1. Do you sometimes find yourself with a boatload of Swiss Chard?
  2. Are you left wondering what to do with all the thick stems from that chard?
I've been in that boat on more than one occasion. I used to just toss them into the freezer and add them to the pot when I made stock, but now I have another trick up my sleeve... Chard Pesto.

I first read about this simple and delicious stuff a few years ago in the book, An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler... and I haven't tossed a single stem in my stockpot ever since. 

Chard Pesto
Not really a recipe, more like just a thing you do when you have a big bunch of chard stems...
  1. Cut them up, then throw them in a pan with some butter or oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.
  2. Cook them down a fair bit, adding a little water and a lid in the beginning.
  3. Check and give it a stir now and then to see how it's coming along, removing the lid when mostly done.
  4. Take it off the heat once "they" become an "it" (soft and mushy and thick enough to stand on its own)
  5. Let cool it down some (too hot and it will steam the toast, making it soggy).
  6. Pile it onto pieces of toast made from good sturdy bread and grate some Romano or Parm over the top.
It's the kind of thing that is so lacking in attractiveness that you won't want to make it for guests. Once you taste it though, you really won't want to share anyway... so it's just as well. I should also add that it makes a mighty fine dinner on a day when you don't want to spend a lot of time cooking.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Blueberries: All's Fair In Love And War


Early June 2016
My Backyard    

Dear Jay, 

I know that no amount of sunflower seeds can take the place of a warm and juicy ripe blueberry bursting in your beak. On this we can agree. But while I respect your above-average avian intelligence, you are, for a few weeks out of every year, my adversary.

Sincerely yours,

Stephanie     

P.S. This is war.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Turmeric: For Pain and Inflammation

Turmeric Capsules
If you had told me four years ago that I would one day stop taking ibuprofen... I wouldn't have believed you. If you told me that I would be making my own capsules for pain and inflammation... I would have laughed. And if you told me that I'd be filling those capsules with turmeric, a common pantry spice... I'd just have laughed harder. But here I am not laughing... and not missing my OTC anti-inflammitories one bit.

I feel so much better about how I'm treating my aches and pains, and worry a lot less about any long-term or cumulative effects from my pain-management choices. But that's me, and I'm not here to convince you to change what you're doing. It's just that friends and acquaintances always ask about our switch to turmeric and I figured it would be easier to just steer them here and have the info in one spot.

Scores of others have already written about turmeric and it's many benefits—and done so better than I could—so I won't rehash any of that here. Instead, I will point you to some articles/posts to get you started. After that, if you are at all interested in pursuing it further, I'll link to some sources for supplies.

Start Here...
There is a very thorough blog post on the many benefits of turmeric at Fresh Bites Daily. You can also check out what Doctors Weil, Axe, and Mercola have to say. But don't just take their word for it, do more reading and research on your own before making a decision. It's your body and your health after all.

If you do decide to replace your current NSAID with turmeric, you can either buy pre-filled capsules or fill them yourself. Not a DIY kind of person? You can usually find them ready-made wherever you buy vitamins and supplements. I've seen some great sale prices at Swanson-Vitamins.com (get on their email list, they're always having sales).

You may find it easier on your wallet to make your own. If so, you'll need a capsule machine, empty capsules, and organic turmeric root powder. The capsule machine and empty capsules come in two sizes: "0" (500mg) and "00" (735mg). The empty capsules also are available vegan-style (called "V-Caps" they're made without gelatin). Mountain Rose Herbs has a great video on how to use the capsule machine.

FYI: Turmeric has been used historically as a dye, so don't wear white when working with the powder, and put some paper down on your work surface before you begin. It can and will stain, so wash and scrub your hands immediately after working with it (or wash a sink-full of dishes!).

A Toddy for the Body...
Another option I like is to make a therapeutic hot drink called Golden Milk (or Turmeric Tea, Turmeric Milk, Turmeric Tonic) which works just as well as the caps but is administered via a mug of hot soothing liquid goodness. Here are some recipes and methods to get you started...
Unlocking The Treasure
Whether using the capsules or hot drinks, be sure to take them with a pinch of black pepper and some healthy fat. Turmeric is fat-soluble, so it needs to be consumed with some sort of fat to help your body absorb the nutrients effectively. Black pepper also greatly increases the bioavailability of the compounds in the turmeric.

It's easy to add a bit of coconut oil and a grind of pepper when you're making a turmeric drink, but if you prefer the caps, just remember to take them with meals. If it's not mealtime, I'll have a few nuts or olives, a dab of nut butter, glass of milk or piece of cheese, etc. As for the black pepper, I add some to the turmeric when I make the capsules (or you can even buy them that way). 

Some Sources for Ingredients and Supplies
Whether ready-made or DIY, for one-stop-shopping you can get everything at Mountain Rose Herbs or bulkherbstore. You can also find most everything at Vitacost. Local Sonoma County sources to try are: Oliver's or Sprout's, and in Sebastopol there's a nice little herb shop called Rosemary's Garden that should have everything you need.

One Last Word...
Fresh is best of course, and if you have the means, time, and availability to use fresh turmeric root... all the better! I don't, so I can't relate any favorite recipes etc. for using it in that form, but between the internet and your local library... you should find all the info you need. 

—be well... and stay well!


Big Ol' Disclaimer
I am not a doctor or health professional. I am only relating what I do myself. Take your health seriously and take your personal medical history into account when making any decisions that concern your well-being. Unsure? Talk to your doctor or other trusted health professional. Everyone's different. Results may vary. None of the links in this post are affiliate links. I am not connected with any of the brands, companies, or stores mentioned except as a customer. All opinions are 100% my own. Nothing was given to me for free, or provided for review, etc. Please recycle and do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

This Little Rut of Mine....

make it bake it buy it fake it (tea collage)
Just thought I'd pop in and let you know I'm still around. It's been a while and I've missed you! What has it been, nearly almost somewhere around three whole entire years since I've posted anything? Yeah, and then some. But you know, even back when I was posting semi-erratically, the span of time between posts had been getting longer and longer. It made me ponder more than once whether I should even begin anew.

I find it interesting that I just wrote "begin anew", instead of using the word "continue". Maybe that's key. I often wondered (doubted) if I even could continue to write the way I had been before. Or if I even wanted to? Serious doubt. But perhaps the trick isn't to continue with what I was doing, but instead, to begin anew. Neither starting back at the beginning, nor resuming from where I left off. After all, I'm not the person I was three years ago. None of us are. Better to forge ahead from where I'm at right now.

There will be no "starting over" either... a term that, for some reason, just sounds too depressing for words (and way too much work). To begin anew though, implies hope... possibilities... adventure... romance! Okay, results may vary, but who knows? It smacks of the unknown future which is always brighter than dredging through the well known old rut. A new start from this point on, which I find infinitely more interesting than current pop-culture's oh-so-boring over-fondness for the reboot (just another word for re-do, restart, or do-over).

So, yes, there will be new posts to come. Semi-erratically, 'cuz that's how I roll. And since this was never intended to be just a food blog, there will be more crafts, and other... stuff (gardening/health/beauty/musings/rants), as well as more recipe reviews. For now though, let's just see where things take us. After all, there are times when do-overs are necessary, this just isn't one of them.