Friday, March 13, 2015

Trying New Things...

I've found that what I eat ebbs and flows with what is in the kitchen, which changes with how I feel when I'm at the store.  Generally it's been working if I buy whatever meat sounds good, a few veggies and fresh fruit.  So far, I've been able to come up with something.  
Every now and then though, I get a hankering to try something new and that was the case last week.  
Last week I tried a dried seaweed salad and kelp noodles.  Neither were "keepers". 

I was hoping the seaweed salad would taste like the fresh green asian noodle-like salad that you can find at some restaurants.  Unfortunately it was nothing like that.  When reconstituted with water I found myself with a pile of tri-colored, multi textured, fishy, seaweed.  And I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was.  I made a homemade rice wine vinegar sauce to go over the salad, still with hopes that it would taste the same, if not feel the same, as the restaurant version.  Nope, next.

I had no idea what I was going to get with the kelp noodles.  They came packaged like soba noodles, which raised hopes that they had other similiarities with real noodles. The noodles come ready to eat and look like bean thread that has been cooked. Unfortunately there is nothing else going for the noodles.  They are oddly crunchy.  Odd in that they are more firm that you'd expect, and they don't  get softer as you chew. I did figure that I'd have some fishy taste to deal with, but that wasn't the case, they generally had no taste.  Even with rice wine vinegar dressing added to them. If there was a taste at all, it was a very slight, chalk like taste and accompanying "film".  So, two thumbs down for both products.

On the plus side, I did get my noodles in the form of "zoodles". I finally tried out my new kitchen gadget that makes noodles out of zucchini, or carrots, or....what else??  Why did I wait so long to try this?! I've seen these little gadgets at TJ Maxx for $2.99 recently.  I was very pleased with how this turned out, and made a nice zucchini caprese salad, sans cheese.
 Trader Joes made this salad so easy with these small zucchini, that end up being about 1 serving per squash.  Add TJ's happy little grape tomatoes, a light EVOO dressing and basil...easy peasy.  Next time I will saute the zucchini prior to eating it.

 The basil comes frozen in tiny cubes that equal approx. 1 tsp.  These little cubes are the prefect rescuer when I need to add some freshness to a recipe.  Luckily I had them on hand when this salad came together.  
I did buy this product prior to changing my eating style and now that I look at the ingredient list, there are ingredients I'd like avoid.  I will plant my own basil this spring and find a way to make my own version this summer.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Beef Broth, for what ails you...

Or so they say.  I've always made chicken bone broth because I eat a lot of chicken.  I decided to mix it up and hunt down some beef bones to give beef broth a try.  Happily I ran into packages of various sizes at my local alternative food Co-Op, and they were "grass-fed".

This morning I Googled around for a recipe and chose to base my broth off a recipe from this site:

I varied the recipe to fit what I can eat and what I had at home at the time I decide to start the process.  Here's what I did:
Placed approx 2 qt of filtered water in the crockpot and turned the heat onto high.  
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Place beef on a shallow baking sheet, on parchment paper.
While preheating the oven I charred a poblano pepper on the stove, then steamed in a paper bag.  This was to remove the skin, but the pepper was old enough there wasn't enough moisture in it for this technique to work.   I cut it into 3 large chunks, removed the stems and seeds and tossed it in the pot.
Added these other ingredients:
chunked frozen fennel, saved specifically for soup or broth.
Continued the cleaning out process by adding whole scallions.
Smashed 5 cloves of garlic and removed the papers.
Chunked up a jicama, and added it to the roasting beef for a few minutes.  Not sure what roasted jicama would be like, but thought it might be good that way.  It didn't really get much more than warm by the time the beef was done.
Lastly, a splash of apple cider vinegar.

Once the beef looked browned, I added it to the crockpot and drained the fat off the parchment paper into the pot as well.  
The house smells delicious and the just the beef and fennel together remind me of a beef pho soup.  I'm really excited to see how this turns out.  The plan now is to bring to a boil, then simmer for 24 or more hours.  After which the ingredients will be strained out and lovely, healthy and healing beef broth will be left.

Roasting beef bones on parchment paper.

All the ingredients in the pot, ready to do their thing for the next 24+ hours.

Note: This broth came out a little weird.  I think I put too much of the kitchen sink in it and not enough beef.  Next time, more bones and less other non traditional things (ie fennel and pepper).