Cortido and Kraut (…and a lamb!)

This has been an exciting week on the homestead! We welcomed the first lamb ever to be born on our farm into the world on Tuesday! We named her Thorina, after the Norse God of Thunder. She was born during our first major thunderstorm of the season, which is very auspicious. Just look at this face…

…and here she is less than 48 hours later out on pasture with her mom, Inga.

How amazing she is! Such a strong little girl – loves exploring the farm. To read more about her, check out my homesteading blog, Got Goats? (…and sheep too!).

It has been a while since I wrote about fermented foods – a staple in our house. On a daily basis, we find ourselves enjoying delicious fermented foods made at home such as yogurt, dairy kefir, water kefir, kefir cream (like sour cream) historic raw milk cheeses, quark, ginger carrots, kombucha, lacto fermented pickles, traditional sauerkraut, cortido and various fermented condiments.

Why do we love fermented foods? Well for one they are extremely good for you – a way of getting high quality probiotics into your body without having to take a supplement and whole body health really starts in the gut. Having healthy gut flora keeps the bad bugs at bay and naturally boosts you immune system. Plus they taste extremely delicious and fermenting foods is a traditional food preservation method. To learn more about this method of preservation, please read my post: Lacto Fermentation Questions Answered.

During the summer months we have an abundance of vegetables. In addition to our own ( growing every year) kitchen garden (we are now up to 12 vegetable beds and soon to be adding 4 herb beds) we also join a local CSA. This ensures that we can eat our fill of delicious fresh vegetables all summer long and have enough to preserve a large majority for winter eating . My favorite preserved vegetables are sauerkraut and cortido, a Latin American cabbage and carrot ferment. I love sauerkraut all year long, but cortido feels like summer to me! Cortido is a great condiment to eat on tacos or to serve with your favorite grilled meats.

We should all be well into garden season now, at least in the Northern hemisphere (we are in one of the coldest gardening zones – zone 3, so if we got our tomatoes in the ground, most everyone else already is harvesting veggies!) and so these are some great recipes to keep on hand for when you or your local farmers get a bumper crop of cabbage and carrots! Both are very easy to make and are not time consuming and both are a delicious way to preserve your summer abundance for the leaner winter months while naturally boosting your immune system!

Sauerkraut (from Nourishing Traditions)

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
1 TBS caraway seeds
1 TBS sea salt
4 TBS whey (or if not available an additional TBS of salt)

METHOD: In a bowl mix cabbage with caraway seeds, salt and whey (If using). Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release the juices. Place in a quart sized wide mouth mason jar and press down firmly until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least one inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. Makes one quart. It may be eaten immediately, but it improves with age. *I have had some of my jars for over a year and they are still delicious!

Cortido (from Nourishing Traditions)

INGREDIENTS:
1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
1 cup carrots, grated
2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and finely sliced
1 TBS dried oregano
¼-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBS sea salt
4 TBS whey (or an additional TBS of salt if not available)

METHOD: In a large bowl mix cabbage, carrots onions, oregano, red pepper flakes, sea salt and whey (If using). Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release the juices. Place in two quart sized wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly until juices come to the top of the vegetables in each jar. The top of the vegetables should be at least one inch below the top of the jars. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. Makes two quarts. It may be eaten immediately, but it improves with age.

Shakshouka: Eggs cooked in fragrant tomato sauce

 

Long time readers of this blog will know how much I love eggs. They are definitely one of my favorite foods and I have written about them often (this blog has almost 100 recipes featuring eggs!). In fact I have often bordered on waxing poetic about them. My one and only youtube video is all about eggs (from hen to pan) and one of my egg recipes was even featured in a cookbook on brain healthy foods, Think Food . So yeah, I am a big fan.

It is hard to say anything negative about eggs these days, especially now that people are hip to the understanding that eggs don’t increase your cholesterol or make you fat, more and more the egg is being praised again for its health benefits. It really is nature’s most perfect food and each day I marvel at the little miracles deposited in our hens’ nesting boxes. Studies are even speculating that those with egg allergies, really aren’t allergic to the eggs but to the soy  in the eggs from the feed chickens are given.

“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

Now I have already mentioned many times that you should make sure to find a source of good quality, organic, pasture raised eggs (and soy free if you can find them). But it doesn’t hurt to say it again. When it comes to eggs, meat and dairy, organic, pasture raised is a must. These are foods I will never skimp on. It is the way nature intended and this is the only way to ensure you aren’t getting GMOs, added hormones or antibiotics in your food, all things that make naturally good and healthy food, unhealthy. It really is that simple. What the animals we eat, eat, is what we eat. Hence the famous cliché – You Are What You Eat. Well, you really are.

One of my favorite things about eggs is that they are so easy to raise yourself. It is a way of getting cheap, local, sustainable food right in your backyard (or front yard, in our case)! Many towns allow people to keep at least 3 hens, backyard layers are becoming as popular as gardening these days! And this is good – we could all be a little more sustainable and self-sufficient. And if you can’t raise hens yourself, check out localharvest.org to find a local farm near you that does! A great way to support your local economy and find out from the farmer exactly what went into those eggs.

(Shakshouka served with gluten-free sourdough bread)

Now onto the recipe, I learned how to make Shakshouka from my best friend Liz. Shakshouka is an Israeli dish comprised of peppers, onions, garlic and eggs cooked in tomato sauce, spiced with cumin and it is absolutely delicious. In fact the first time we had it, her Israeli husband made it for us, for dinner. There were sweet and hot peppers in it and the flavors just popped! Combine that with perfectly poached eggs on top, breaking and releasing their delicious yolks and it is pretty much heaven on a dish (or in a bowl). They served it with pita and hummus. It was a satisfying and flavorful meal.

Wikipedia says that Shakshouka was introduced to Israeli cuisine by Tunisian Jews and so it is a popular dish in North Africa as well.

I don’t often have access to fresh peppers unless it is the height of summer. So I usually use roasted jarred peppers and a pinch of cayenne or hot smoked paprika to lend some heat to the dish. I use the best canned tomatoes I can find – usually that means home canned tomatoes. I also like Pomi brand tomatoes and Eden Organics (the cans are BPA free) and of course our farm fresh eggs! Sometimes if I have leftover potatoes, I will add them as well.

Add some spice to your morning eggs and get your day going with some delicious Shakshouka!

INGREDIENTS:

A nice glug of olive oil
1 roasted bell pepper (or fresh) cut into thin slices
½ a small onion
1 clove of garlic minced
2- 8 oz cans of diced tomatoes (or one box of Pomi)
Cumin, cayenne (or hot smoked paprika) salt and pepper to taste.
4 large farm fresh organic eggs

METHOD:
Heat a large skillet and add olive oil. Gently sauté peppers, onions and garlic on medium-low heat until tender. Add tomatoes and spices/seasoning and simmer over medium heat until much of the liquid is evaporated and you have a nice spiced sauce (about 10 minutes). Crack eggs over pan, season, place lid over pan and let cook until egg whites are cooked and yolks are still runny.

Grain Free Almond Raspberry Muffins

I am just going to ignore the fact that I haven’t updated this poor blog in over a month, as I would just bore you to tears with excuses and reasons why I haven’t been around. ‘Tis the season to be outside, working on gardens, doing homesteading chores… I mean how can you say no to this face?

(for more of my homesteading activities see my blog Got Goats?)

(and catching up with the rest of the world by reading The Hunger Games and watching the first season of Game of Thrones).
I’ll leave it at that.

I can’t even take credit for this recipe I am going to share with you, even though I did modify it a bit. But they were too good not to share with you. The recipe comes from one of my very favorite baking cookbooks – The Spunky Coconut Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts: Gluten Free, Casein Free, and Often Egg Free – this book is terrific. In fact, this one cookbook has really changed my life since going gluten-free 3 years ago. I love it because I can make and eat every single recipe in it without tweaking. If that weren’t enough, all of the recipes I have made from it, which are constantly increasing in numbers, are perfect – they always work, always taste divine and even fool those who don’t have to worry about gluten or grains. Did I mention that the recipes are also very simple to make? I mean what more could you possibly want? What can I say, I am an enormous fan.

These muffins are light and flavorful. They are perfect for breakfast, as an afternoon snack with tea or a nice way to end dinner. Once you finish your first batch, I bet you’ll be whipping up another soon after! They go fast!

Grain Free Almond Raspberry Muffins (adapted from The Spunky Coconut’s Aspen Almond Muffins)

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup of applesauce
1/3 cup honey
3 eggs at room temperature
½ cup coconut oil, liquefied
2 cups almond meal
½ cup buckwheat flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup fresh raspberries

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Then add to it the rest (except the berries), then mix with a hand mixer or food processor until incorporated. Then fold in the berries (The Spunky Coconut recommends strawberries). Spoon into muffin wrappers or a silicone muffin tray and bake for 25 minutes.