Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Granny - a Strong Woman

Last May my Granny passed away and I was asked to speak at her funeral; it was an honor to tell her story.

For International Women's Day I'm also sharing her story with you. It's the story of one woman's life and her strength to overcome and build a legacy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bone Broth with Chicken Feet and Wedding Soup with Liver, Oh My!

Recently my husband and I had the opportunity to give a cooking demonstration at the Pittsburgh Public Market. What a blast, cooking nourishing food with my best friend! We taught how to make nourishing bone broth as well as Italian wedding soup. We use a lot of organ meats in our cooking. They've long been sacred foods and we are thankful for the rich nutrients they provide. Here is our take on bone broth. I've also adapted a wedding soup recipe from www.TheKitchn.com with Weston A. Price methodology. 

Nourishing Bone Broth

For our variation of bone broth we roast a chicken for dinner, tossing the giblets in the roasting pan. We pick off all of the meat and enjoy it in tacos or with whatever we’re having. Then we take the chicken bones, giblets and all the pan drippings and put them into our pressure cooker. We also add about a half a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns, a bay leaf, a tablespoon of sea salt, a dash of raw apple cider vinegar, a carrot, an onion, some garlic, and some chicken feet if you have any on hand. We get ours from Asian markets. Cover with water, about 2 quarts. We set the pressure to high and the time for as long as it will go, about 90 minutes. At the end of cooking we strain the bones and vegetables through a metal strainer, pour into jars, wait until the broth cools, and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. We sometimes put the broth into ice cube trays so that we have a small bit to add to vegetables or rice etc.

*A note on crock pots and stock pots. If you are using the stove top or slow cooker method it will take about 24 hours to get a full extraction from your bones. Because of the long cooking time, wait to add the vegetables until about about hour or 2 before you plan to strain the broth. This keeps the broth from becoming bitter. Alternatively, you can leave them out altogether, this still makes a tasty broth.

Nourishing Wedding Soup with Dandelion Greens

Once you have jars of liquid gold in your fridge you’ll soon find lots of ways to use them. One of my favorites is Italian Wedding Soup. I’ve taken a great recipe from The Kitchn.com and amped it up with some beef liver, pastured eggs, and homemade bread crumbs.

I always make my meatballs with about an ounce or two of grated grass fed beef liver in them. This adds vitamin A, as well a plentitude of B vitamins to my meal. When we served it at the Public Market I don’t think some of the people who were late to the demo had any idea! Its great for tricking kids and husbands, in my opinion. :)

To grate the liver, I keep it frozen at all times, pull it out of the freezer when its time to cook, grate it like a hard cheese until I have as much as I want, then put it away again before it defrosts. With this method you won’t be eating tons of liver, but you will be able to add a super food boost to common dinner dishes. This method works for all things using ground beef, hamburgers, tacos, shepherd's pie.

For the greens, my children and I like to forage for dandelions in the spring and summer. We have a large untreated backyard where lots of happy dandelions grow. The tender greens are perfect for this soup. The dandelion greens from the store are so bitter! We learned to avoid those.

If its not dandelion season, or you have a manicured lawn (I won’t judge) I find that swiss chard is a great green to have on hand in the kitchen, it cooks quickly, can even be substituted as lettuce in a pinch. For this soup, you can use any green you like, these are just my favorites.

To make my bread crumbs I take a loaf of sourdough bread and let it get a little hard. That happens quickly when you buy bread thats not been treated with conditioners and preservatives. I slice it, put it in the oven at 300 for about 10 minutes or until its dry and hard. Next, I pop it in my food processor until its all crumbly. I store mine in a glass jar. I like to add garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and a store bought blend of Italian herbs. I add them by smell and taste. When the bread crumbs smell nice and fragrant you’ve nailed it.

The rest of the recipe goes like this

8 cups homemade bone broth
½ pound ground grass feed beef 
½ pound ground pastured pork 
2 ounces grated grass fed beef liver
1/2 cup sour dough bread crumbs
3 large pastured eggs
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano) 
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch greens trimmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
Red pepper flakes, optional
Lemon wedges, optional
"Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of each cheese, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly, then form the mixture into 3/4-inch to 1 1/2-inch balls. You should have 20 to 30 meatballs, depending on how large you form them.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs in batches and cook, turning, until browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes. (If they are still a bit pink in the middle, don't worry; they will continue to cook in the broth.) Set them aside on paper towels or a paper bag to absorb excess oil.
In a 4- to 6-quart soup pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are tender and the garlic is soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the greens, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and cook another 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 eggs and remaining cheeses in small bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot soup, stirring constantly. Cover and simmer just until egg bits are set, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, maybe even a pinch of red pepper flakes and a squirt of lemon juice. Serve immediately.
Leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To re-heat, simmer gently over low heat." - TheKitchn

There you have it! I took a recipe from http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-italian-wedding-soup-136211 and modified it with Weston A. Price touches. Definitely add the lemon at the end! The acidity cuts perfectly against the rich broth. I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holy Joy

We hosted our small group from church in our home last night. The day had been filled with events and errands all the way from home to the city and back again, but when we got home, just 15 minutes before we would fellowship with friends, our hearts settled into the quiet hopefulness you have just before sitting down with intention to know God more deeply. My home was still cluttered with the things that make up our lives, hair ties, blankets from a friend's recent stay at our house, dishes from the potluck dish I had just made, but more than all those things our home was filled with the Spirit of the Living God. From our very first apartment to my husband's business offices, we always spent time praying for the Lord to dwell with us, for His presence to be felt and known. Once our friends arrived the sounds of laughter filled the rooms. So much in fact that it was hard get everyone to stop their chatter for more serious conversation.

As we talked about the recent sermons and our lives a friend told us a little about her visit to a third world country where she adopted her son. She said that the orphan children prayed for her, "may the Lord's blessing's be upon you, the blessings of Jesus!" These little ones had nothing. Nothing but Jesus himself. Through Him, however, they had joy. In America we think of blessings as things, sometimes they are, but the truest blessing is more of God Himself. More of Jesus. Because at His right hand are pleasures forever more. In His presence is fullness of joy.

I was reminded that God's joy is always available to us. It can be easy to fall into the mindset of being happy when things are going well, when you have money for all the tasty foods you want, or you've reached some new level of success. Sometimes I think I'd rather live in a monastery where all of my days would be devoted to knowing God, and experiencing Him in richness and clarity. Tonight I was reminded that I don't need a cloistered life to meet with God. I walked into my two year old's room to lay her down for bed when I realized that this moment wasn't for her. God was with me, in a tangible sense, in that dark room as held my daughter. I closed my eyes and let the Spirit speak. I sang a quiet secret hymn to Jesus and experienced a taste again of his joy.

This joy, this peace, this love, this GOD, the Holy Spirit, is always available to us. And I am thankful for sweet reminders.

 Lord, meet with us more. Teach us your grace and fill us until we burst forth with yourself. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Clean Eating in Small Town Western PA

Its not easy bring green. - Kermit the Frog

Living in a small town, a solid hour away from the big city of Pittsburgh, it can be hard to procure all of the foods and cleaning products we'd like to lead a clean, green, lifestyle. It's not always easy but I have spent hours of my life scouring labels, searching through stores, and keeping my ears open for any real food I can find!

Friday, October 31, 2014

So, I [might] Love Food

If you know anything about you me, or my family, you know that we love food.  We spend hours shopping for the right ingredients, more hours laboring over the cooking, sometimes waiting days for things to ferment or soak.  Food is kind of our thing. We love making it, eating, and sharing it. Food is kind of our love language. If you want to show me you love me you'll buy sushi grade salmon and pocky sticks. Or maybe you'll buy me a food dehydrator, juicer, and knife sharpener all in the same year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grace Through it All

Its been a year of coming to the end of myself again, and again. Just when I think I've reached the very end of me... God takes me farther. A year ago in October I felt the Lord asking me to go to Asia and work in an orphanage with special needs children for about 2 weeks. I had spent the year prior to that call praying for orphans in China by name, sponsoring them and sending gifts. I grieved as some of them died from complications of their special needs, and I laughed and rejoiced when things went well, like liver transplants in tiny babies' bodies. My heart was broken for these children and when the opportunity came to serve them with my own hands, I was excited and ready. I cried out to God, I will go Lord! Send me.

I think that's about when everything started.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stella's Family

I am so excited to share with you that I was looking at the New Day Foster Home blogroll of families last night and I came across Stella's Family's blog! Though we have been sad that we weren't called to be her family we have been praying through it. (My post about the sadness of that is here.) I have been worshipping God in new and powerful ways. A lot of that prayer time (even over the last year plus) has been devoted to asking Him to place her in a Christian home, with a loving family, and for the Lord to make the transition from orphan to beloved daughter a smooth one. How wonderful that I can now see how richly the Lord has answered our prayers by reading their blog! Go check it out and pray for them! GOD IS SO GOOD! http://holcombefamjourney.blogspot.com/