EGGS and THINKFOOD Cookbook Giveaway!

Congratulations to Christy, who is the winner of the ThinkFood Cookbook! Her comment was chosen using Random.org

Today is a very exciting day for me and The Leftover Queen blog! It is the day that I get to tell you more about my involvement in the ThinkFood Project and Book. Plus, I also get to give away a copy of this fantastic book to one of my loyal readers!

Although I can’t share the recipe with you yet, you’ll have to wait until the winter for that, I can tell you that it is a new and improved, totally revised recipe that I call my “Breakfast of Champions” and the main ingredient is eggs. I have been developing this recipe for about a year now and I am so excited to share it with everyone that picks up a copy of the book.

The inspiration for this recipe is two-fold. First, to find a dish that I would enjoy for breakfast, regularly. Prior to last year, I was never a breakfast person. Second, was to create something that has a balance of nutrients to keep me going through a hard workout (one of my passions and what this recipe was developed for), a day of work on the homestead, or just a busy brain day at work. This is an excellent recipe for anyone who wants a powerful and nutritious start to their day no matter what the day might bring. Some of the components can be made ahead, making it ideal for busy folk as well. Plus it is so delicious and satisfying, that I look forward to eating it about 5 days a week. It is also extremely diverse.

“Eggs are an amazing whole food. They are rich in choline, a key ingredient in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is necessary for the healthy communication between brain cells. Studies have shown that choline intake promotes recovery from learning memory disorders in the aging brain, and may even improve psychic function in those with senile dementia or Alzheimer’s. Egg yolks are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, yielding additional brain benefits”. – ThinkFood, Recipes for Brain Fitness

I want to take this further and say that farm fresh eggs that are gotten local from truly free-ranging, pastured birds are even more nutritious. Nutrients can be lost the longer a fresh egg sits in storage, and mass produced eggs can have unwanted antibiotics in them. Birds that are free-ranging eat their natural diet which includes a variety of greens as well as bugs and worms. They are healthier, and therefore their eggs are better for you.

So how can you tell a good quality egg from a bad? Good quality eggs have a deep yellow, almost orange yolk that retains it’s shape when it is cracked open. Instead of a thin white, good eggs have a more viscous part surrounding the yolk and thinner area just around the perimeter.

If you purchase high quality eggs you shouldn’t have a problem with salmonella and other bacteria and viruses. Over 95 percent of all U.S. eggs currently coming from caged hens. Caged hens live their entire lives crammed together. They have no room to even lift their wings. They are stacked on top of each other in cages. Many never even see the light of day. These are mal-nourished and diseased birds. This kind of environment is a breeding ground for all sorts of nastiness. These eggs are at high risk for salmonella and other bacteria. You can tell them apart because they will have pale yellow yolks, a thin white and a bland taste. I believe that eggs are the perfect food, but only if you get the best quality eggs. They are more expensive, but if you do the math, they are on average about 40-50 cents per egg. Can you afford 40 or 50 cents for breakfast?  You can’t afford not to, if you take a look at this video. Think all eggs are the same? It takes 3-4 grocery store eggs to match the nutrition of one pastured free range egg! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmRlYLpz1jw

So support your local farmers, or even neighbors who have a few backyard chickens, with extra eggs. To find a local farmer near you, please check out Localharvest.org. Try several different producers and inspect your eggs for color, viscosity and taste. Or better yet, get a few backyard hens for yourself!

(Our girl, Gimpy)

I really can’t wait to share my recipe with you, and all my tips for making it ever more varied. So be sure to sign up for the free recipe of the week program at any time via this link.  You will get an email each week for 50 weeks highlighting each one of the recipes per week. The recipe of the week pages give each blogger’s tips, info about the blogger, and photos along with all of the recipes. There is really no reason why you shouldn’t sign up this minute!

Well, actually you should wait just a minute, because I want to tell you about how you can get your own free copy of ThinkFood.

How to Enter The ThinkFood Book Giveaway:

Anyone is welcome to enter, provided doing so does not violate any local laws of your place of residency. International participants are welcome, but all participants must be over the age of 18.

Please remember that for your entry to count, you must leave a separate comment for every entry you make.

1) DO THIS FIRST (REQUIRED): Tell me your favorite way to cook with eggs, and if you purchase farm fresh eggs.

Optional ways to get more entries:

2) Blog about this giveaway describing why you want to win the book, and link your post to this giveaway. (1 extra entry)

3) Subscribe to The Leftover Queen RSS  feed. (1 extra entry)

4) Enter your email address to Subscribe to Daily Emails. (1 extra entry)

5) Fan The Leftover Queen on Facebook. (1 extra entry)

6) Follow The Leftover Queen on Twitter and tweet @leftoverqueen with a link to the giveaway. (1 extra entry)

If you are already a fan of The Leftover Queen and have done all or some of the above, and wish to enter the contest just write that you already subscribe to the newsletter, facebook page or RSS feed, by email, etc. Make sure to leave a separate comment for every entry.

Why Enter?

1) Because it is free

2) There are tons of awesome recipes and photos for each recipe in the book

3) Who couldn’t use a little more brain health?

The winner will be announced on this post next Tuesday, September 7th. The winner will be drawn at random and contacted on September 7th. The winner has until Thursday Sept. 9th by 10 AM, EST to respond before another winner is chosen.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book for yourself, or for someone else (they make great gifts), you can use this link. They will also be available on Amazon very soon.

Roasted Veggie and Edible Flower Salad

We started our garden about a month late – our moving date was not well timed with the Farmer’s Almanac this year. So now, we are harvesting veggies that everyone else in our area harvested 4-6 weeks ago. In some ways it makes us feel really behind in our gardening, but in another way it is actually good – having a second harvest! The first time around we bought these goodies from the farmer’s market – second time around from our garden!

Less than two weeks ago we got our biggest harvest yet – 5 beets, 10 carrots, fresh herbs and lots of beautiful edible flowers – nasturtium and borage.

FLOWER POWER!

Nasturtium flowers and leaves are edible and have a wonderful peppery flavor. Even the seeds can be pickled – they apparently taste like capers. The flowers are high in vitamin C, and have been used to treat colds. It can also be used topically for bacterial and fungal infections because of its mustard-oil content.

Borage flowers are perhaps one of the only truly found in nature blue foods, beyond blueberries. They have a very sweet taste. The flowers are also rich in minerals, most notably potassium. Medicinally the leaves are often used as support to the adrenal glands and for inflammation. Probably the most well-known use for borage is borage oil. Borage oil is very high in gamma-linolenic acid, GLA. GLA is an essential fatty acid, omega-6 oil. Borage oil supplements are most beneficial for arthritis and chronic dry skin, such as eczema.

We really planted both of these flowers in accordance with companion planting – plants that keep bugs and disease, as well as other garden pests away from the plants you are growing for food. So these plants have a dual purpose. Plus they are very pretty as an edible garnish. My stepdaughter Gwen had never had an edible flower until we served this salad for dinner recently. At first she didn’t want to try them, but after some coaxing, she did, and she really liked them!

I love roasting beets for salads, and pairing them with goat cheese. There is something so good , and not to mention aesthetically beautiful about the combination of goat cheese and beets. So I decided to roast the whole lot, and arrange them on top of fresh greens from the garden, also. As we have been harvesting plenty of those for months now.

This is a perfect dinner salad on a hot summer night, when your family is looking for something light. This would also be a wonderful first course to a summer harvest dinner. It is colorful, delicious and healthy on so many levels!

INGREDIENTS:

5 small beets, cut in half
10 baby carrots
2 TBS fresh rosemary
1 TBS fresh thyme
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp maple syrup
5 cups fresh greens – arugala, red leaf and green leaf lettuces, nasturtium leaves
olive oil to toss the greens in
salt & pepper to season greens
¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled
nasturtium flowers, as garnish
borage flowers, as garnish

METHOD:

Stir the veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs until well coated. Roast in a preheated 400 F oven for about 45 minutes, turning once halfway through.

In the same bowl, add mustard and maple, dump the roasted veggies in and stir to coat. Then toss the greens with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Crumble the goat cheese on top, arrange the roasted veggies and the edible flowers. Serves 4 as a main dish.

Cooking with Company

One of my favorite activities in the whole world is cooking with the people I love. For me there is no greater way to share the bounty we enjoy here in this part of the world. It is not just a way to share what is offered here, but  to also get creative with my favorite people. People hear me preach the act of eating locally, and cooking from scratch on my blog and in person, and when they come to visit us, we all have a great time together living out that vision. Mostly it is for fun, but it also shows people in a personal way why we decided to make our lives here, and how easy it can be to eat locally and healthfully in a place that really strives to make that ideal a reality.

I have had the best summer because we have had quite a few guests visiting the homestead, and since all of them love food in one way or another, we always, without fail end up spending time in the kitchen or out on the deck at the grill and then of course EATING what we have created together. Such a simple yet magical act that really brings people together in a fundamental way.

Here is our summer of eating so far – in mostly visual terms.

My mom was here earlier in the season, and we celebrated her visit with lots of al fresco dining. One evening we enjoyed mead sprizters – local mead, with a splash of Italian prosecco, garnished with muddled mint and currants from our garden. Sadly at the time of her visit we weren’t harvesting many veggies yet. But we still enjoyed many local meals out on the deck!

When my dad and stepmom came to visit, they both ended up cooking for us. My stepmom Kayzie made her mom’s famous crabcakes – and brought fresh blue crab with them all the way from Maryland! On another night my dad grilled some beautiful local steaks that we enjoyed with local sweet corn.

Roberto and I also got a duck as part of our meat CSA share from Applecheek Farm . I cooked duck once before with my friend Amber (who also came to visit us!!! ) but wanted to try a different method this time. So with the help of my dad, we grilled it on our rotisserie. It was lightly seasoned with herbs de provence and stuffed with orange wedges. I made a cherry sauce with red wine and oranges to accompany it. We also grilled some potato wedges under the duck letting the drippings season them.

Most recently my stepdaughter Gwen is visiting. She loves to cook, and whenever she comes to visit we end up making something yummy! This time we made the ultimate nachos – Tortilla chips covered in 3 kinds of cheese (cabot cheddar, maple smoked cheddar chunks and parmesan), homemade beef and bean chili, tomatoes and cilantro from the garden and green chilies.

Tonight she and her dad made me dinner – their specialty, spaghetti with tomato-cream sauce and garden fresh herbs with a delicious side salad – all veggies from the garden.

Thanks to everyone for your visits – and we look forward to many more wonderful meals with family and friends here on the homestead!

Pairing is Caring – Boloco, Burlington, Vermont

boloco_people_collage

From top, clockwise: Happy Boloco people, Inspired Burritos, My buddy Matt hard at work, Happy Bloggers – me, Cheryl and Greg from CrankyCakes)

This week I attended my first foodie event in our new (again) home state of Vermont! Again and again I am reminded in subtle ways why we moved back to this great state, and this was no exception.

Pairing is Caring was held on Monday, August 16th and joined the forces of Boloco Inspired Burritos and Magic Hat Brewing Company . I was invited as part of the press pack on behalf of PMG Public Relations. PMG stands for People Making Good. PMG is not your typical PR firm, they are local to Vermont and focus on healthy brands. Brands that care about the environment, culture and responsibility. PMG has core knowledge of issues, goals and philosophies behind socially and environmentally responsible business and their targeted audience. So thanks PMG for a great night out!

The proceeds from Pairing is Caring went to icouldbe.org, a leading online e-mentoring program that matches middle and high school students with adult mentors from all over the country. Funds raised from this event will be used to implement an icouldbe.org mentoring program in one of Vermont’s public schools. It is easy to become a mentor with icouldbe.org – it takes about an hour a week to connect with your “mentee” but can make all the difference in the world to them and the path of their lives. It all takes place online, making it all the more manageable for people with busy schedules. So check it out today!

We had the chance to sample all eight varieties of Boloco burritos as well as 4 Magic Hat brews – the goal was to see which pairings of burritos and beer were a match made in heaven.

Boloco is not just a burrito shop, it is a business that cares about people, both customers and workers. It cares about the environment by serving drink and food in corn cups and bamboo bowls. It’s about naturally-raised meats and organic tofu. It’s about composting and recycling and reusing building materials. CEO John Pepper in his presentation to kick off the night, discussed many of the goals for his shops. Mostly centering around being part of the community and about changing the face of the fast food world, where customer opinion matters and where employees can make a real living, and even career with their jobs.

This philosophy really shines through when you talk to the servers, the people behind the counter. Like my new friend Matt, who gave me the full menu run down, after I told him that this was my first time eating at Boloco. Matt was very well informed about the flexibility offered on the menu and clearly passionate about the ingredients and food philosophy of the restaurant. In one simple word, he was inspired, just like the burritos. I mentioned to John, the CEO towards the end of the night how impressed I was with Matt. He wasn’t surprised. He knows his employees and works closely with them to make sure that each person at Boloco is true to the vision. This is not your average fast food establishment, people.

As for the beer, well anyone who loves a good microbrew should be familiar with Magic Hat, whether you are in New England or not. Magic Hat is one of the pioneers of the microbrew movement, and has achieved much acclaim.

Now on to the Food and Drink section of this blog post! So as I mentioned, we were able to sample all 8 varieties of Boloco Burritos as well as a special burrito just for the event and 4 Magic Hat Brews.

boloco_foods-collage

BURRITOS AND BREWS

Burritos:

Buffalo Chicken
Memphis BBQ
The Summer
Bangkok Thai
Teriyaki
Yucatan Habanero
Cajun
Classic Mexican
Spicy BLT (this was created just for the event, and will be featured on the menu in the coming months – it features local bacon, cheeses and veggies).

Brews:
#9
Hex
High PA
Odd Notion

My personal favorite pairings were as follows:

Memphis BBQ and Hex
Buffalo Chicken and Odd Notion

Disclaimer: I did not personally try all 9 burritos or all 4 beers. I didn’t sample Bangkok Thai or Teriyaki burritos since both had soy products in them, tofu in one and soy sauce in the other. But those who did try them really liked them. I also did not try High PA as I am not a fan of IPAs and I didn’t drink #9 either, since I am already familiar with the beer, and although I like it, it is not my favorite of the Magic Hat varietals.

The Memphis BBQ burrito was my over all favorite of the night. It was filled with all natural pork carnitas, sweet bbq sauce, cole slaw, pinto beans and rice. It had a wonderful bbq flavor and the pork was melt in your mouth tender. Not to mention it has coleslaw in it – and I am a known cole slaw fanatic. I have never met one I didn’t like, and that is the truth.

The Buffalo Chicken was nice and spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. If you like buffalo wings and all the traditional accoutrements, this would certainly satisfy the craving and is a lot less messy.

I also believe that the Yucatan Habanero is worth mentioning – filled with grass-fed humanely raised steak and pickled onions, with a spicy habanero sauce, it satisfied my spicy tastebuds. Although for some it was too hot, so bear that in mind when ordering.

As for the beer, I really loved Hex, and could see myself buying it. It is a seasonal beer, amber in color with hints of toffee, caramel and smoke, all flavors that I am looking for in my beer. I also enjoyed the Odd Notion, a Belgian style beer with flavors of coriander, bitter orange peel and a hint of green apple. This brew was really refreshing, and just a bit odd – in a really good way!

So to wrap up, all in attendance had a great night at the event – the food and drink were really good, and the passion of the people involved in all aspects of the event, from the hosts, organizers and charities it was funding, was infectious. What I brought away from the night is that people have a lot of choices when you find yourself out and needing to eat at a restaurant. So why not support the local ones who also support the local food shed, and the people they work with to make your dining experience unforgettable? Spend your dollars wisely. We all have a choice, and we can all make a difference by making small choices that add up. There are inexpensive places to enjoy food that not only tastes good, but is also trying to make the world a better place, one burrito at a time.

Frozen Tapioca Pudding

tapioca-icre-cream_redy-to-eat

How about a delicious frozen twist to an old classic? I am sure many of you have enjoyed some delicious frozen custard this summer, so why not frozen pudding? This is best served right after the initial churning in the ice cream maker – kind of like a soft serve. I like to sweeten my tapioca with maple syrup and a little cinnamon. This extra little flavor adds a lot of dimension to this tasty frozen treat!

We are busy enjoying summer here on the homestead with a lot of out of town visitors. Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Sourdough Spelt Pizza Dough

Gal_Liz_Jenn_making pizza

(Gal, Liz and Jenn making Pizza)

Pizza night is a weekly tradition in this house, and something we love to share with friends and family when they come to visit the homestead. Two weeks ago, I had a reunion with my best friend from high school, Liz, or as she is affectionately known to me, Lizard. We fell out of touch, like many of us do, over some boys…and we hadn’t been in touch for nearly 10 years. BAD BOYS. I thought about her often over the years, and we were so happy to be reunited on Facebook! She lives in Brooklyn, with her beautiful family, and she and her awesome husband came to visit us.

Pizza is the perfect food for entertaining. It is also a great way to feed a crowd when you are not sure what kinds of dietary restrictions people might have. Toppings can range from all veggies, to anchovies, some sausages, or whatever. You can even use pesto or barbecue sauce in place of traditional tomato sauce. You can even forego the cheese, if someone in your group is lactose intolerant. Making pizza together is a great way to spend time with friends – rolling out the dough, making personal pizzas, and then enjoying it together, with a nice glass of red, maybe a beer, and a lot of laughs! See how much fun we are having?

Gal_Liz_Jenn_making pizza 2

We are really passionate about our pizza here. Roberto grew up eating pizza in Italy, and I grew up thinking I didn’t like pizza (don’t blame me, blame “cheesefood”). This all changed when I discovered thin, crunchy, crust, fresh mozzarella cheese and the amazing array of fresh toppings that one can come up with when you make pizza at home! So you could say that we are both very picky pizza eaters. We might even be pizza snobs. So, in order to do justice to homemade pizza, we have been experimenting and creating for the past two years to come up with THE PERFECT PIZZA (TM).

We used to use the Olive Oil bread dough from Artisan Bread in 5, religiously. However, during that time, we had a bit of a wrench thrown into the works, when I discovered that I was having trouble with wheat. So we experimented with gluten free flours, and pizza dough recipes, and all of them really left a lot to be desired. So we had some sad and disappointing Friday nights. I was determined to find a pizza dough that was up to par taste and texture wise, and at the same time didn’t make me wake up with a hangover feeling the next day. This is where the sourdough comes in. I had heard through the blogosphere that people with wheat intolerance (NOT Celiac) were able to tolerate sourdough bread products. It has to do with neutralizing enzyme inhibitors, which interfere with digestion and breaking down phytic acid, which generally blocks mineral absorption. Sourdough cultures also predigest or completely break down the gluten during the fermentation process. Creating a bread that is more digestable. I also used spelt flour, because I have found that it is not as “heavy” as whole wheat, and closer to the feeling of a traditional pizza crust, like you would find in Italy.

For us, one of our secrets to making a super flavorful pizza is to use tomato paste in place of tomato sauce. This is a family secret, that one of my great aunts came up with. Roberto feels that this “proprietary” information should not be shared with the public. But like I told him, now maybe if we have homemade pizza at someone else’s house, maybe they read my post, and we will like it all the better! :) That punch of tomato paste flavor really comes through in all its sweetness once it is baked in the oven. Also, the cheese matters. Get the best quality mozzarella that you can, not the shredded stuff. Nice slices of fresh mozzarella add something wonderfully light to the pizza – and go easy on it. It is OK to have some bare spots, where you can actually see only sauce. Trust us…

Spelt_pizza_on_Plate

Some of our favorite toppings are: fresh tomato slices, fresh mushrooms, prosciutto, arugula, anchovies, olives (capers if we are too lazy to pit olives) peperoncini peppers, and sun dried tomatoes. And you must remember to salt and pepper your pizza, and a nice drizzle of olive oil over top doesn’t hurt either!  We mix and match the toppings on different pizzas. Usually we make 2 pizzas, and then have leftover for lunches. Another favorite is using pesto as the sauce, and then adding thinly sliced potatoes, that you have baked slightly beforehand.

Perhaps the most important aspect  to the perfect pizza is a HOT oven. We preheat our oven 20 minutes ahead to 500 F. We bake our pizzas on cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper. This makes the crust super crisp and delicious! I have heard all the rage about pizza stones, and one day I might add one to my kitchen tools. But I use my Italian husband as a barometer for a good pizza, and so far, we have done well without the need for a pizza stone.

So we suggest you get your crust ready tonight to have pizza tomorrow!

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup sourdough starter

5 cups spelt flour

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS salt

2 cups water

3 cups sprouted spelt flour (or you can use regular, if you prefer)

1 tsp olive oil

METHOD:

Combine starter, 5 cups spelt flour, olive oil, salt and water in a large bowl. Cover loosely with a towel or lid and allow to stand in a warm place for 5-10 hours, or overnight is best. Next add 3 cups of sprouted spelt flour and work it into the dough, enough so you can handle it without it being too sticky. Form the dough into a ball, and rub 1 tsp of olive oil all over it. Place it back in the bowl and let it stand 20 minutes. Then knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth and elastic, then place it back in the bowl, and allow it to double in bulk – about 1 hour. At this point you can use it to make pizza. This recipe makes about 4 large cookie sheet rectangular pizzas. If you are not going to use it all, you can rip off 4 grapefruit sized balls and store each one in a freezer bag, until you want to use it. When you want to use it, take it out to defrost, and then roll out, and put your favorite toppings on.