Friday, January 4, 2008

What's For Dinner, Tea and Old Potatoes

Part of using more whole foods is longer preparation times and so once again I find myself trying to figure out a menu for the next couple weeks. When even cornbread takes 24 hours to make, it takes a little more planning. This morning we tasted the steel cut oats that I put in the crock pot last night before bed, YUM! So we're liking this a lot, it just takes a little more brain power than using prepared foods.

I've been wishing for a while that I could find something hot that I liked to drink, mostly because my hands are cold in the evening, especially if I've been on the computer much and it'd be nice to have something to warm them on. I can't stand coffee, no matter how I try it, or who makes it or how expensive it is it just always tastes like coffee to me, yuck. I have the same problem with beer, but that's has nothing to do with this. Hot chocolate is good, but it's too much sugar and the non-sugar stuff is fake tasting and well ick. We did get hot chocolate from Starbucks the other day, and well okay now I can understand why people rave about the place, YUM! Finally I decided to try tea, I've never liked hot tea. Mom made us drink it when we were sick and it was always bitter, or you had to put sugar in it, which I didn't want to do. So I asked Mark if he liked tea and what do you know, after 12 years of marriage he finally tells me that he loves the stuff and starts telling me about the kinds that he likes. The man is sometimes a mystery to me. So we started with a box of Earl Grey, okay this stuff is quite yummy and doesn't need any sugar or honey, at least for me, Mark likes his with wildflower honey in it. The first cup we had solo, that was good. This afternoon while John was napping we had a cup with a piece of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao that was wonderful and last night we had a cup with popcorn, hmmmm, this tea thing is pretty versatile. When we go shopping on Monday maybe we'll try another of the kinds that Mark listed that he likes, I wonder, just how many teas out there go good with both popcorn and chocolate.

Well Old Potatoes, in our house we tend to throw away the last potato or two out of every bag that we buy because they have grown eyes or are mushy or are just plain rotten. This happens to us whether we buy a 5# bag or a 10# bag, and at one point I got to where I was buying one or two baking potatoes at a time. We just don't eat that many potatoes. Well I just put the last of the potatoes from a bag that I bought in early December into Spicy Potato Soup and they were fine. Hmmmmm...these were the first organic potatoes that I've purchased, and I've noticed this trend with other organic produce too.

So let me share those recipes, they are yummy!

Overnight Oatmeal

1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups raisins
4 cups water
1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours. In the morning stir and serve.

The raisins make it sweet enough that even Mark didn't add honey or sugar, we did add some butter for that yummy buttery flavor and a sprinkle of cinnamon because well cinnamon is just plain good.

Spicy Potato Soup

1 pound ground beef
4 cups 1/2" cubed red potatoes, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
3 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon ground oregano
few drops of hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Brown ground beef in dutch oven. Drain. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook uncovered for 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender.

I made this tonight with ground deer. My theory tends to be if beef is good, deer is better, at least for most things. I tried substituting Spicy V8 juice, um well no, that doesn't work and added the tomato sauce anyway to give it more depth and richness. The best experiment of all, when it's all hot and piping in our bowls, I added a tablespoon or so of thick heavy cream, oh man is that good! It elevates this dish from regular old hey this is good soup, to holy cow this stuff is AMAZING! We like it with French bread to get every last drop.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Omnivore's Dilemma

I finished reading this book just in time to drop it off at the library before we left for Omaha last week. It's certainly worth the read, although there are parts of it where I found myself skimming, lol, not as bad as I've done with some other books though. I think it could just as well have been titled the Evolutionist Omnivore's Dilemma because much of the pretense of the book is how things, including people, have evolved to eat. This did give the author fits when he was dealing with animal rights wackos rat=dog=boy stuff, but in the end he hunted, ate and enjoyed. Did the book change my mind on some food stuff? Yes, some, no others.

I certainly don't have the least bit of guilt or remorse when it comes to eating animals. I firmly believe that God created animals for us to eat, but also to take care of and so even those animals that are to become food should be treated humanely. This isn't a new belief for me, it stems from my father who believed that hunting was good and right, but deer, elk, etc. should be killed as quickly as possible. I think this is part of what bothers me about catch-and-release fishing, but that's another topic entirely. What this book changed for me was now I have a picture of what goes on inside of the places where animals are raised for the tons of burgers, chicken mcnuggets and pork sausage patties and it gives me pause and reason to search out meat raised by farmers who treat their animals more humanely.

It has affected how I think about the food that I cook and serve. I have often thought that it was sad that little kids didn't know that hamburger was from a cow, and sausage from a pig, etc., but little did I realize where a bunch of other foodstuffs are from or that lots of adults don't really think about where the food comes from. We have been moving more towards whole foods for a long time, and this book served to push us down that road a bit.

I certainly don't have a problem with the use of petroleum. For the life of me I can't figure out why oil is less organic that say salt, or other things that come from the ground. I also am a total non-believer at the church of Global Climate Change, so don't particularly care how much CO2 is spewed out by grocery transportation trucks, after all isn't CO2 what organic lettuce breathes. So while I don't cringe at the thought of how much gasoline was used to ship lettuce from California to Missouri, even organic lettuce, I do think that buying local is good and much more sustainable. After all, it's nice to have seen the cow that my burger comes from and I kinda like knowing the farmer that grew the lettuce in my salad.

Pesticides and artificial fertilizers have always bothered me. Yep, I understand that we use them and feed the world, well okay at least before we got selfish and decided we should burn our corn at the altar of Global Climate Change, oh wait that's an ethanol rant for another day. While I'm not a believer of evolution, I do believe that God created stuff to work the way it does and that includes soil which is full of microbes and worms and stuff that I wouldn't want to eat, but makes what I do want to eat good for me. I'm not a person with a lot of knowledge in this field, but as a thinker it does kinda make sense to me that doing things more naturally and with less chemicals is going to be better in the long run.

So has the book changed my mind on stuff, not so much I guess as given me reason for some things that I've thought for a while and opened my eyes to some stuff that I didn't know. Do I choose to preach about organic food, buying local and such, well no, preaching is my husbands job and besides all that stuff comes off as so much ex-smoker's syndrome. You've met them, the person that quit smoking and so now that's their one horse to ride and they've ridden it until it's dead and desicatted even. But for me I'll change the way we do stuff here and there, less stuff from Walmart and more from the Root Cellar, a store that sells locally grown produce and meat. Of course their is the pleasant irony in that, I always wonder if they know that an evil Republican is in their midst, bwa, haw, haw. So in the end it's a book that I'm glad I read and one that I would recommend to anyone else who is interested in knowing where their food comes from.