Ramblings

September 24, 2010

Just wanted to post an update of sorts. I rarely do a post that doesn’t contain a recipe or two, but I really feel this post is needed.

I’m currently working on two other posts. One is on resources; what we eat and where I buy it. I’m also hoping to include why we eat what we do, but I haven’t been able to do this without climbing up on my soapbox, so not sure that will make the cut. The second one is a guest post of sorts with my good friend, Rachel. She is such an example to me. She tirelessly works to find (or create) meals to accommodate the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) her son is on, in an effort to help him find healing from his colitis. Not only does she have fantastic recipes (I shared her simple meatloaf recipe a while back), she has a couple of shops on Etsy. I talked about one of them in the meatloaf post and will be introducing the new one. Stay tuned, because that post will include a discount for first time customers and she has some cool vintage items, as well as some unique items she sews herself!

I’ve made mention a couple of times of our leaning towards eliminating grains from our diet, which may be briefly, long-term, or forever. The latter’s not likely, though. I even talked about my struggles with it in my post called Maneuvering the Dietary Maze. I then mentioned in the Green Enchilada post (Part 1) that we have gone to a grain-free diet. The reasons for this are numerous and I plan to elaborate on them soon. I’m hoping the gf recipes I post will be of help to others, since gluten intolerance to some degree or another seems to be rampant these days. I’ll also discuss how soaking grains, using sprouted flour, and using sourdough may work to alleviate this problem in some. That was my hope for me, but it hasn’t been working out. Thankfully, when the low carb craze hit its peak a few years ago, some very clever cooks got very creative and came up with some wonderful recipes that fit in with the gf diet. What I do is upgrade the ingredients to those that are the most wholesome (to the best of my knowledge), and throw in a few tweaks here and there. Hope you’ll stay tuned!

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Green Chile Enchiladas, Parte Dos

September 22, 2010

green chile cropped

Yesterday, I did part one of the recipe for green chile enchiladas, which consisted of making the enchilada sauce and a tip for making the flour tortillas nice and round. Today I am posting the rest of the recipe.

Green Chile Enchiladas

2 lbs grass-fed ground beef (or bison)
2 cups green enchilada sauce
3 cups grated cheese (I used Kerrygold, which I found at Costco: grass-fed and my new favorite snack!)
10-11 flour tortillas1
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbs olive or coconut oil (or grass-fed tallow/lard, if you have some)

Preheat oven to 350o. Heat oil in a large frying pan or pot. Add ground beef and cook until done, stirring frequently to break meat up into small pieces. If using grass-fed meat you should have only a trace amount of oil/grease left, so no need to drain. These type of fats are beneficial to the human body! Add enchilada sauce and heat through. In a 9×13 casserole dish, put a small amount of sauce and meat. (This is to keep the tortillas from sticking to the bottom of the pan)
first step
Lay tortillas on top. For this I place the whole ones first (usually 2), then tear another 1+ to fit in the open spaces. Like this:
tortilla layer
Ladle 1/3 of the remaining sauce/meat mixture over tortillas, being careful not to move them out of place as you spread the sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 of the chopped onion over that and top with 1/3 of the grated cheese.
Add onion and cheese
Repeat 2 more layers; tortillas, sauce, onion, cheese.
Bake in oven at 350o for about 20 minutes.

I served it with some of our New Mexico grown pinto beans and some mixed greens. Delicioso!
green enchiladas with beans and salad

1You can replace the flour tortillas with organic corn tortillas if you prefer a more authentic taste. Just fry the tortillas in about an inch of hot oil briefly on each side and then drain (paper towels or parchment paper). Proceed as with flour tortillas.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays blog carnival.


Green Chile Enchiladas, Parte Uno

September 21, 2010

Green chile enchiladas

Update: The enchilada sauce has been updated to include 1 cup of chicken broth. Don’t know how I missed that, but please accept my apology!

Although we are currently doing a low carb/grain free diet, I wanted to share this recipe for a meal I cooked before we made the switch. Not that we won’t be eating enchiladas, we’ll just be using a grain-free version, which I will post when I make them. This recipe will be done in two separate posts; Parte Uno and Parte Dos. (Sorry, eating Mexican food makes me want to throw around the few Spanish words I know!) This post deals with making the homemade green enchilada sauce and a tip I found on making a (nearly) perfect tortilla. Parte Dos (Part Two) can be found here. By the way, I am including this update on the flour tortillas, because these are what I used in my enchiladas. If you have a source for organic corn tortillas and prefer them, simply sub them for the flour. Why organic? 1) Pesticides 2) GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

I posted my recipe for making homemade spelt flour tortillas here. Though I love the challenge of trying to make them as round as possible on my own, I found this alternative method interesting (and handy, when I want to really impress company). Simply roll the dough out into whatever shape you can, then set an appropriately-sized lid on top of it; press lightly, giving a slight twist.
Place lid on dough
Voila! Simply remove the outer portion of dough, toss it back in with the remaining dough, and cook your perfectly formed tortilla!
Perfect tortilla
Cool, huh?
Almost perfect tortillas

And now, for the sauce.

Green Chile Enchilada Sauce

2 cups of roasted, peeled, and seeded green chile, chopped
(or use canned, diced, green chile equal to 2 cups)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (more or less, according to taste)
2 cloves of garlic, diced (ditto above)
2 Tbs olive oil or coconut oil (or lard/tallow, if it’s from a grass-fed animal)
1 cup chicken broth

Heat oil in pan on medium heat, then add onion and garlic. Cook till onion is translucent. Add green chile and broth; let simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Cool enough to put into blender, or do what I did, use an immersion blender. Blend until it is a smooth consistency. You can also set aside a Tbs or two of the diced chile and add back in at the end, for a chunkier consistency.
Green chile sauce

That’s it!! So simple! Stay tuned for Parte Dos.

This post is part of Tuesday Twister blog carnival.


Chile Rellenos

September 17, 2010

Chile Rellenos, Spanish Rice, Salad

Chile Rellenos are my favorite food, ever! Of all food! Well, excluding desserts, of course. They aren’t too hard to make, so I don’t know why it’s taken me almost 2 weeks since the arrival of my green chile to make them. It may be partly due to the fact that every time I take some out of the freezer with the intention of making rellenos, I end up eating some of them before supper rolls around. I’m tellin’ ya, this stuff is good on everything!

Most recipes are pretty basic and the differences are usually found in the amount of flour used, from none all the way up to one cup. I prefer to keep it light, so I use very little. In fact, when I begin my grain elimination diet, I will go the route of no flour. But for now, here’s how I made them tonight. (And since it was just hubby and I, it was a very small batch; recipe can be adjusted to increase amount)

CHILE RELLENOS

Ingredients:

5 whole green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded
4 oz. cheese, sliced into strips1
4 small or 3 medium/large eggs (from pastured chickens; you knew I was going to say it!)
1/4 cup + 1 Tbs flour (I used white spelt)
dash of salt
oil for frying, (I used coconut oil, approximately 1″ deep; 2″ might work better)
1/4 cup organic salsa (just say NO to pesticides!) warmed, optional

Directions:

Separate egg whites from yolks. Whip egg whites till stiff.
Egg whites
Beat egg yolks in separate bowl with the tablespoon of flour, then add salt.
Egg yolks, flour and salt
Gently fold mixture into egg whites.
Put the 1/4 cup of flour on a plate.
Flour on a plate
Carefully stuff chile with cheese. Okay, who am I kidding? I partly obliterated the chile trying to get all the seeds out of the partially still-frozen pods while giving the grandkids refills on their very late after school snack. So I carefully placed cheese inside them, making sure the chile slightly overlapped on the ones that took the worst beating. (This means I put the cheese on the most intact side and carefully wrapped the rest of the shreds chile around it, covering it the best I could) Sorry, no pictures here and no additional comments. Lay stuffed chile on top of flour and lightly dust top side (along with counter, floor, and self). This is just to help the batter stick better to the chile (and entertain the grandkids).
floured chile
When all the chile is stuffed and dusted (sounds violent!), heat oil in frying pan. To see if oil is hot enough, drop a small dot of batter into it. If it puffs up and rises to top of oil, it’s ready. If it sinks, it’s not hot enough. I turned my electric stove up to #6, if that helps anyone. While oil is heating, begin to batter chile. Warning: this is not as easy as it sounds, especially when said chiles are trying to fall apart. Carefully lift chile, holding together as well as possible and keeping cheese inside, and immerse in batter. (No pics, as this would require more hands than the two currently attached to my arms) Do the best you can and cover the chile completely with batter. Don’t worry if it looks like you have too much. The important thing is to get -and keep – the chile covered. Somehow, it all works out in the end. Remember I said they aren’t too hard to make? I meant, for some people. I’m not one of those people. However, where practice may be lacking, patience goes a long way. (Unfortunately, I was lacking in both here) Carefully lay the battered chile in the hot oil. Cook to golden brown, approximately 3-5 minutes, depending on the temperature of your oil, then turn and cook other side. Remove from pan and repeat process. To serve, place a small amount of warmed salsa on top. Serves two, with one left over for the cook’s breakfast.
Ready to eat!
Chile rellenos with salsa, Spanish (brown) rice, and salad.

1About that footnote on the cheese. Just wanted to mention that I used this yummy grass-fed, organic, chipotle-flavored cheese that I bought at The Nutrition Stop in St. Peters.
Chipotle cheese
You can use any cheese you like, although a Mexican-type of cheese is more authentic.

And remember, if I can cook this, so can you!

This hurriedly put together post is part of the Fight Back Fridays blog carnival.


Green Chile Quiche

September 15, 2010

Slice of quiche
Quiche topped with guacamole

I’m so enjoying my NM green chile, but each time I use some I know that I’m a little closer to running out. It reminds me of that feeling of sadness you feel when someone you love comes to visit and about halfway through the visit you start missing them in anticipation of their departure. What, you never felt that? I guess that’s my melancholy personality coming through. Just call me Eeyore.

Anyway, quiche has long been my quickie meal standby. Maybe I should call it “Quickie Quiche.” Maybe not. One of the things I love about quiche is it’s versatility. You can throw in all kinds of (healthy) ingredients and it almost always tastes good. Another thing I love about it is the way the cheese forms a type of crust on the bottom, so no flour crust needed. And, at least for me, I’ve never had it stick to the pan even though I don’t grease it (because of the cheese layer). You may opt to do so. I’d hate to get negative feedback. Us melancholy people don’t care much for negative feedback. Although, negative feedback could be better than no feedback. Ah, but I digress. Lastly, it’s quick to put together and has few ingredients. Unless you get really creative. I originally found this recipe, sans chile, on the Low Carb Friends forum. That’s a great resource if you’re looking for low carb or grain-free recipes. Just replace the lower quality ingredients with good ones and pretend you never saw them.
😉

Green Chile Quiche

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups fresh heavy cream (if you have to use store bought, try to avoid ultra pasteurized)
6 medium or 5 large/extra large eggs, fresh off the farm (cause who wants salmonella?)
1 to 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (grass-fed preferred)
1-2 roasted green chiles, peeled, seeded and chopped
seasoning to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375o. Put cheese into a pie plate and spread all around the bottom and up the sides to cover as much of the pan as possible. (This is where that extra 1/2 cup comes in handy, although in this pic I only had 1 cup on hand)
Cheese
Yes, this cheese is white. That’s because it doesn’t have dye in it. (If your cheese is yellow/orange, check the ingredients label) Put chile all over bottom layer of cheese. (Forgot to take a picture of this) Or cooked and crumbled bacon, sausage, hamburger, chopped broccoli; whatever strikes your fancy. Whisk eggs and cream together until just mixed. Very slowly (and carefully!) pour egg/cream mixture into pie plate.
Season top with desired seasonings. I like to use this, although I’m almost out and apparently, so are the places that used to sell it.
(Edited to say, I found more of this the other day at Whole Foods)
Ready-to-bake quiche

Carefully (being careful not to slosh it out) place dish in oven and bake at 375o for 15 minutes. The best I remember, this is what gives the top that nice golden brown look. Lower heat to 350o and bake 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if it seems to deflate. It still tastes yummy.
Ready-to-eat quiche
Loosen crust all the way around on the sides (otherwise, it WILL stick and you might have to send me negative feedback!) and then slice into 8 pieces. Top with sour cream or guacamole and enjoy. Tastes great hot or cold!

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays blog carnival. Because this is REAL FOOD, made with real ingredients!


Spelt Flour Tortillas

September 8, 2010

Spelt Tortilla Cooking

Now that I’ve got my green chile roasted and ready to cook with, along with my NM red chile powder and pinto beans, I’m ready to do some serious Mexican cooking. Or, at least, this weda’s version of it. And what’s Mexican food without some fresh, homemade tortillas? I have to confess, we have been leaning more toward a grain-free diet. However, we have not yet arrived, so I’m sharing this recipe because I’m rather proud of it. I don’t know about other cooks, but trying to cook with healthier flours can be quite a challenge. So much so, I had given up on tortillas for a long time. All I was able to produce were tortilla-like crackers. They were usable in enchiladas (when you’ve done without for a while, it’s amazing what tastes good!) and fried up they made nice chips for taco salad or salsa, but burritos were out of the question.

The way I discovered this recipe is pretty strange. One day I was using a recipe for pizza dough that I had altered to fit my ingredients when I decided to make only one pizza, instead of two. I wrapped the leftover dough in Saran wrap and stuck it in the fridge. When I took it out the next day and unwrapped it, I discovered it had the very same texture as masa (tortilla dough); nice and smooth. I thought, “Why not?” and dug out my comal (cast iron griddle). To my surprise, amazement, and delight, the result was a tortilla that tasted just like the ones I made when my kids were growing up. Soft, pliable, dense. There’s just something about the texture of a homemade tortilla that’s indescribable. If you have never eaten a homemade tortilla, you can’t even imagine the difference in taste from a store bought one. Though the ingredients were basically the same (flour, baking powder, salt, lard, liquid), the biggest difference in these tortillas was that they weren’t made with water, but milk. Raw milk. Sour raw milk. I know, I know. Not only does making tortillas with milk sound weird, making them with soured raw milk sounds downright gross. Believe it or not, it did not make a difference in taste. Honest! Why would I use milk instead of water? Well, because I can’t just throw out the sour milk. It has too much good stuff in it to waste. All those vitamins and minerals and stuff. Besides, wasting is…wasteful!

Rabbit trail: I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to write a few words about milk. The sour, raw kind. Umm, maybe I will skip the raw part. That’s of such importance to me, it’s worth it’s own blog post. Let me just say that soured raw milk is not bad in any way. You can use it in any recipe that calls for buttermilk (or just drink it) and the stuff lasts indefinitely. (At least, at my house) You can even make sour cream with it by draining the whey off of it. Once soured, the probiotics actually increase. Raw milk is completely unlike pasteurized milk, which does not sour, but turns rancid and will make you very sick if you drink it. ‘Nuff said. (For now)

Without further ado, I give you:

Karen’s Spelt Tortillas

Ingredients:

2 cups spelt flour (preferably sprouted)
2 tsp baking powder (I use Hain’s corn-free)
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup lard (non-hydrogenated) or coconut oil
2/3 cup of sour raw milk (or water, if you have none)

Directions:
Add flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add lard (or oil, if using) and mix well. Add milk and mix until dough forms. Shouldn’t be too dry or too wet – should be easy to work with.
Masa

Pinch off a little bit of the dough, enough to equal an amount about the size of a medium lemon. Smooth it into a nice, round ball. The rounder the ball, the rounder the tortilla. I learned that from little Gramo, my kid’s paternal grandmother. (A very godly woman I was blessed to call my other mom while her son was on this earth) Prior to that, I made a lot of tortillas that looked very similar to the state of Texas.
tortilla ball
Take the ball and begin to flatten it like you would a hamburger patty. I do this by turning it in my hands as I flatten it. Once it is about the size of a hamburger patty, you can begin to roll it out. I do this by rolling, then turning a quarter turn, couple of rolls, quarter turn, etc, till it is the size I want (a little smaller than the comal). I made a video of this, showing how it’s done, but can’t upload it to wordpress without upgrading with cash. Maybe I’ll find some place to post it free and can then link to it.
(I’m thrifty like that ;))
rolled out
Carefully lift it and transfer to pan. Cook until bubbles form on top, then carefully flip and cook other side. I usually use a butter knife to lift one edge in order to turn it without burning my fingers.
cooking tortillas
I like to stack them, flipping the stack each time I add another tortilla. This helps to keep them soft until I am done.
Repeat until all the masa is cooked. Use to make burritos, Mexican burgers, or spread some yummy grass-fed butter on them and enjoy! Mmm, mmm!
Stack of Tortillas

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays.


Green Chile Goodness

September 7, 2010

NM Green Chile

Green chile. No other food takes me back to my childhood quite like green chile. New Mexico green chile, to be exact. New Mexico, because that’s where I grew up and, well, because they grow the best chile in the country! Make that the world! There’s not much that doesn’t taste better with some green chile in or on it. Eggs, sandwiches, beans, burgers, burritos, fried potatoes! You name it, it’s better with green chile. I have to say, my very favorite food ever is green chile rellenos (green chile stuffed with cheese, battered, then fried). And, in case you don’t know, green chile beats the socks off of poblano peppers when it comes to rellenos. I’ll never forget the first time I ordered chile rellenos in a restaurant in Texas and they brought out poblano peppers. I was ready to send it back to the kitchen for the real thing! The next best thing to eating green chile is smelling the wonderful aroma that fills your house as you roast it. If you have never tasted fresh-roasted green chile from New Mexico, I’m telling you, you’re missing out! So how did I end up with NM green chile in my kitchen when I live all the way over here in Missouri? Did I stumble upon it in a grocery store or farmer’s market? Sadly, no, though it is shipped around the country. (Check your local sources) But I did do the next best thing; I ordered it from Diaz Farms in Deming, NM. Deming, home of my family’s roots, although I grew up in nearby Las Cruces. After doing some research online, I found that Diaz Farms had the best prices (IMHO) and most reasonable shipping. Of course, you have to know that this chile is so WORTH paying shipping costs just to be able to eat it! 🙂

35 lbs

This burlap bag contains 35 pounds of green goodness. So what do you do when a large box of green chile arrives at your doorstep?

Step 1: Panic! But only if it’s been a really long day (NOT the day you were hoping it would arrive), and you are trying to help grandchildren with homework and it’s supper time, but nothing’s cooking.
Otherwise, just go ahead and rejoice.

Step 2: Breathe in some of that green goodness, say to yourself, “Self, you can do this,” and as soon as supper and homework are over, dig in!

Step 3: Being careful to protect your hands, wash all of your chile well.
wash chile

Step 4: Dry it thoroughly. You want to roast, not steam, it.
dry well

Step 5: Place it on a baking sheet, covering with foil for easy cleanup. (Or do what I did; ditch the pan and cover the top rack of your oven with foil)
ready to roast

Step 6: Roast under the broiler until skin is blistered on one side, flip and repeat. (Watch carefully)
roasting chile

Step 7: Remove from oven and place in a paper bag to then steam. The skins should now easily slip off. (A general consensus seems to be, the chile tastes better if the skin is left on during freezing)

There are several options for removing the seeds. You can do this prior to roasting (as I did with some of mine). Simply slit the chile from top to bottom, then carefully remove seeds and membrane.
Caution! Make sure to protect your hands during this process! You can do this with gloves, although I’ve heard you can also use oil. Use extreme care when handling the chile, especially the membranes, and make sure your hands are thoroughly washed immediately after removing gloves. Whatever you do, DO NOT touch any part of your body with hands that may contain residue. Trust me on this. The oil in the chile’s membrane burns like fire, only there is no relief once the oil gets into your skin. (Not even a prescription burn cream will work. I won’t say how I know this, just believe me) All those websites that pop up when you Google “how to stop burning from green chile” are useless. The alternative method to removing seeds is to remove them after roasting. Use the same caution above, although in my opinion the oil is not as strong once cooked. For this reason, I recommend you do NOT seed the chile prior to roasting. The chile can now be used in a meal or frozen for later use, especially in the case of 35 lbs worth. This is what 35 lbs of green chile, roasted and bagged for the freezer looks like:
roasted green chile
I am set, though this will be long gone before next year’s crop is ever planted.
chile in freezer

I also ordered 10 lbs of NM pinto beans and a 2 lb bag of red chile powder.
NM Food

Yum! Good food ahead! I will be posting some recipes as we dive into our cache of New Mexico treasure. Coming up, green chile rellenos and red enchiladas. Nothing quite like it, que no?

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays blog carnival.