Thursday, April 29, 2010

Roasted Asparagus and Ramps

A big beautiful moth was floating outside my window tonight. Such great wings, such a beautiful body, I just wanted to invite him right in through my picture window. Softly his wings were beating, in the light of the evening. Just outside my kitchen window this grand moth was wishing for an invitation into the brightness of my kitchen. I know that if he could speak, he would have comforted me with his tales of the outside world. Next time, I will let him in.

Do you ever have the day that leaves you sapped, zapped and empty? The kind that feels like your closest friends are somehow your enemies... today was one of those I cooked. We alone become our own best friends. When our husbands and wives fail to hear us and our children forget to listen we have just ourselves and our hearts. Sometimes all it takes is a moment out of time to bring us back to the magic of life. The moth reminded me that I am alone, what I see, taste and feel is my own experience and it is up to me to enjoy it and live it to the fullest. I am brimming with emotion, overflowing with the good, the bad and the ugly of my day. Enjoy this recipe, it is full of the life of Spring, the warmth of the sun, the taste of the earth and the love of my heart ♥.

Roasted Asparagus and Ramps

  1. Oven to 500 degrees. Trim bottom 1-2" off the bottom of 1 lb. fresh spring asparagus. Trim Ramps, take off bottom root strands and top greens. Lay in glass bottom pan 9"x18" or 9"x13"
  2. Melt 3 TBS Ghee or Butter in a sauce pan.
  3. Brush asparagus and ramps with ghee, use pastry brush. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper if desired.
  4. Place in oven, cook for 20 minutes. Delicious.  

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Replacing the Weekend Hot Dog Without Sacrificing the Beef!

Okay - we all have busy lives. Face it, your life is probably not much busier than the next persons. We are all overbooked and never seem to take the time to breath deeply, sleep soundly and eat the foods that really sustain us. We get busy and end up cooking boring hot dogs with macaroni and cheese. I know, there is a right time for mac and cheese and hot dogs, camping. My husbands favorite fast meal is 'hot dogs' with steamed broccoli - It is his quick fix to Saturday afternoon hunger. Today we have officially replaced hot dogs in my house with Philly Cheese Steaks with and Indian twist. These are quick and easy. My whole family gobbled them up. Fast and delicious. We finally have a rival to the hot dog in our house. No photo... family ate these up too quickly.

Philly Cheese Steak Recipe, with and Indian twist

  • 1lb. Sirloin Tip Steak - We use our favorite from Fountain Prairie
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • Hot sauce for seasoning
  • salt, pepper
  • oil
  •  Frozen Garlic Naan from Trader Joes
  • 1 cup grated medium to sharp chedder (or cheese of choice)
 Cooking Instructions

  1. Take out steak and roll into a log shape, warp in plastic wrap and put into freezer for 1 hour. More if needed. You want the roll of meat firm so that you can slice it more easily.
  2. While meat is in freezer, slice onions thinly, put aside. Slice peppers thinly and put aside in a separate bowl. Grate cheese, set aside.
  3. Turn on oven to 350.
  4. Take meat out of freezer, unwrap and slice thinly, as thin as you can get it. I use a serrated bread knife.
  5. Heat oil in pan, (2 TBS) I use a fantastic chili oil from Vom Fass This is a Sunflower oil with a high smoke point, a good oil to use when sauteing at high temps. This oil has a bit of heat and adds a nice spice to the dish.
  6. Saute onions for around 8 minutes, until they are starting to just turn brown. You can use a high heat, keep stirring. Add in some hot sauce, I happened to have Tapatios in the fridge. Salt and pepper veggies. TASTE!! Throw in peppers and cook until peppers just start to brown around the edges.
  7. Take peppers and onions out and place in a bowl.
  8. Take naan and put into oven directly onto the oven shelf. Leave until just soft, about 4 minutes. You do not want your naan crispy. Take out of oven and wrap in a kitchen towel.
  9. Clean pan, I use a wok (easy clean up)
  10. Heat up 2 Tbs of oil in pan again. Throw in beef, saute until pink is gone. Season well with salt, pepper,and a bit more hot sauce. Turn off heat.
  11. Take out your naan, one at a time and begin to fill with ingredients. Start with meat, and lots of veggies. Place into pan. I found a 9"x13" cake pan will work well to hold 4 of these in the upright position. Improvise, you want these upright, like a Gyro. Top with cheese and put back into the oven.
  12. Leave in oven for about 6-8 minutes, you want the cheese to be melted. and Enjoy! Much tastier than a hot dog. Save them for camping!
If you do not eat wheat or are gluten sensitive, no worries. I actually ate this as a salad while my family used the naan. Just throw these ingredients on top of a nice plate of greens. I put a bit of sheep brebis on mine and it made a delicious salad. Very satisfying.

Use good beef - if you can purchase local, grass fed organic, Go for it! John and Dorothy Priske at Fountain Prairie Farms have wonderful beef. Madisonians head to the farmers market, they are located just up the way from Blue Mont Dairy, close to Ela Orchards.

John and Dorothy Priske of Fountain Prairie

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thai Chicken Vegetable Curry with Spring Market Veggies

What a beautiful day it was..... beautiful.....I was lucky enough to head to the opening Madison Farmers' Market with my dear friends Jamie and her wonderful mother Sally. These are my friends who know how to cook... and bake. I love visiting their house on any given day, there is always a warm baked treat coming out of the oven. Delish! It was a treat to be with these beautiful women on such an eventful day....all revolving around food.

The three of us swept onto the market scene, no plan, just a need for lots of good food. We started off with Willi Lehners fabulous cheese stand at Bleu Mont Dairy where we secured hugs and amazing cheese. Then off to Snug Haven for delicious Spinach. We made our way around the market greeting all the wonderful farmers and artisans who work so hard to produce such delicious food for us... Our 4 wheeled cart was brimming with produce, meat, dairy and eggs.

Our last stop of the morning was our Market Must, a visit in to Café Soleil for a warm croissant. The croissants are always wonderful and you can always find a seasonal croissant filled with something yummy.

I came home with loads of greens... many Asian greens that I was hoping to throw into a Thai Chicken Curry. I lucked out as one of the farms was selling Bekana, a yellowish-green leafy veggie with a high water content. It's stems have a lot of crunch, like Pak Choy. I also purchased a wonderful brassica member called, Komatsuna. Again....another wonderful green to throw into our curry. We can not forget about Ramps...oh how I love ramps with their garlicky-onion flavor. Harmony Valley had loads of ramps on their stand and I walked away with 3 bunches.

Following is the recipe using spring market vegetables. I added store bough zucchini and a few other vegetables. The must for this recipe is a fantastic little green curry paste that actually tastes good. I found it at Whole Foods in their section of Thai seasonings. The brand is called Thai Taste, it is made in Thailand and really is a divine blend of spices and herbs. You can probably pick this up at an Asian Market, I will check. I was really impressed with the flavor. You can cook this with or without the chicken. This recipe is dairy free.

Thai Chicken Vegetable Curry with Spring Vegetables
  • 6 ramps, chopped. Separate stem from top greens as they go into the curry at separate times.
  • 2 baby zucchini
  • 1 chicken breast, skinned and boneless and chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1/4 lb fresh crimini mushrooms, halved
  • 1 bunch of Komatsuna, chopped into strips, take off 1 inch of stem
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spinach, large stems pinched off and chopped into strips
  • 1 fresh onion, chopped small. if not available, use 6 green onions, white and green parts
  • 2 -3 TBS coconut oil
  • Wok or heavy bottomed saute pan
  • 2 TBS (at least of Thai Taste Green Curry Paste)
  • 1 can organic coconut milk, (more if you like your curry soupier)
  1. Scoop coconut oil into wok and heat on medium-high.
  2. When hot, not smoking, add chicken, onion and stem part of chopped ramps
  3. As soon as you see the chicken browning, add curry paste and veggies. Toss and coat.
  4. Add coconut milk and let simmer for about 5-8 minutes.
  5. TASTE!!! Important, please taste and see if you want to add more curry paste.
  6. Flavor with fish sauce (hold sauce if a veggie)
Serve over true long grain Basmati rice. This recipe takes around 30 minutes. Start rice when you start your wok, they both take around 20 minutes.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ooh la la cocoa coconut body butter.....

My shipment arrived from one of my favorite on line vendors...and in it was Raw Organic Cocoa Butter. I decided to make a quick batch of body butter. Yum! Why put things on your body that you couldn't eat?

Organic Cocoa-Coconut Body Butter
  • Melt 2/3 cup coconut oil in pan on stove, low heat, just until melted
  • Add 1/3 cup grated cocoa butter, let melt into the coconut oil
  • Pour off into glass jar and let solidify.
  • Take shower
  • Use as a very nice smelling body butter after shower. Enjoy! Smooth skin to follow.
Check out Cocoa Butters amazing properties - Cocoa Butter Information

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pinching my Dumplings

There are lots of things I love to pinch..... and today I spent an hour pinching my homemade dumplings, over and over again. I pinched those little things until I had over 50 of these wonderful plump little pillows filled with utter savory goodness. They are delicious and time consuming, but it is worth effort as this recipe makes enough that you can put extras in the freezer to be cooked up at a later date. I surprised myself with this recipe. I was a bit concerned about keeping my sanity together through all the tedious dough rolling, one perfect 3 inch circle for each little dumpling. 50 dumplings later, I did it, with my sanity intact and flour all over the place.

While cooking this afternoon, I tried to stay as mindful as I could during the food preparation process. When I chopped I was chopping, when I was grating the lemongrass, I was simply there with the lemongrass, present and aware. It was a nice feeling to not be worrying ab
out my other 'things' that I could have been doing. When you are present in what you are doing, those other 'things' do not really matter.

Mindful Chicken Dumplings
  • 3/4 lb. ground chicken, part thigh and part breast meat
  • 1 packed cup of very thinly sliced shitake mushrooms. Heap your measuring cup full. Slice mushrooms in half and then begin the thin slicing.
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro - use the stem and leaf, chop fine
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped kale.
  • 1/2 cup green onion, include both green and white part. Chop fine
  • 1 TBS and 1 tsp of finely chopped ginger
  • 1 Heaping Tbs of grated lemongrass. Grate as you would lemon rind or orange zest.
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 TBS shoyu
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 egg
Dumpling Dough
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup water, add more if needed
  1. Mix flour and water together with wooden spoon. The dough will start to come together. Pull it out of bowl and knead for 5 minutes. Knead, knead, and knead. Add more flour if dough is too sticky. Place dough back in bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a wet towel and let dough rest while preparing the filling. 20 minutes
  2. Assemble the filling, place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg last, and then stir for a few minutes until all the ingredients are nicely mixed up. Set aside.
  3. Here is where you enlist the help of your children to be your dough rollers, if they say no, tell them you will pinch their cheeks.
  4. Get out a cookie sheet and lay down some parchment paper.
  5. Flour your work area, and grab a rolling pin.
  6. Divide your dough into 4 parts. Roll each into a log about 12 inches long,or 1 " in diameter.
  7. Take each log and cut in 1" segments. Roll each segment into a little ball in the palms of your hands.
  8. Take each ball and begin the task of rolling out your perfect little dumpling wrappers, one at a time.You want them to be about 3" in diameter. If you go much larger, you run the risk of thinning the wrapper too much which could in turn break at some point during the cooking process.
  9. Take 1 TBS of your yummy filling and put it right in the center. Fold over wrapper to create a half moon and gently pinch the dumpling closed. Place with it's tummy side down on the baking sheet.
  10. Cooking Dumplings: Heat a few tablespoons of sesame oil and butter in a skillet, we like cast iron pans at our house. Place the dumplings, belly side down into the pan and brown them on one side for about 2 minutes or so. You will probably have to move them around in the pan a bit to make sure they are evenly browned. Pour in 1/2 cup of a water and cover. Let the dumplings steam and cook like this for a good 5 minutes. Take off cover and cook until they are nice and brown. At this point I like to flip them, as I enjoy the whole dumpling to be nicely browned. This can take up to another 5 minutes.
  11. Serving - Eat them while hot. I like to use a nice rice wine vinegar and shoyu mix for a dipping sauce.
  12. Freezing Instructions: Freeze uncooked dumplings on a cookie sheet. When frozen place in Tupperware. No need to thaw out when cooking.
Be mindful in your kitchen. Let your creative kitchen goddess come shining through as you prepare your food. Leave your worries out of your kitchen. (sometimes a glass of wine can help)

Quick Morning Smoothie

Good Morning! Just a quick smoothie recipe I am throwing out at you - This will keep you satisfied for the morning. Snack on nuts or other fruits until lunch.

Spinach Mango Fandango
  • 1 Champagne mango
  • 1/8 pineapple
  • 3/4 cup frozen spinach, about 2 cups fresh (or more as Spinach is pretty light). I like the organic frozen, keeps the drink cooled down without adding ice.
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 TBS coconut oil
That is it, nothing else. Just blend, I use my Vitamix, and blend until nice and smooth. Cheers! Drink up!

I am feeling good today, body is happy and the mind is calm. Hope you can find happiness in what you have!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Anti Inflammatory Tacos....does that sound strange?

Yum.. Veggie tacos for the family. Today is a great day. Sun is shining and I have the energy to make a Sunday lunch. I am keeping it veggie today as I am on an anti-inflammatory diet.
(view food pyramid here)

I love Dr. Weil, not just his monumental beard. He has great ideas and taught my doctor, Dr. Dave Rakel, love him too. When a doctor calls you at home to see how you are doing... you've gotta love that. Check out the link above to Dr. Weil's food pyramid. Note what is on the bottom - fruits and veggies...yes, we need to eat more of them. Eating them means work, purchasing fresh and organic, and preparing them. I know, easier to just buy already prepared, frozen....blah blah blah...if you have the energy, do it. Get to the market at least 2-3 times per week to purchase the freshest available and eat up. In turn your body will be happier and your gardens will be much happier due to all the compost you will produce.

Back to your dinner my lunch - it made the hubby happy and the kids too. Quick and Convenient - if you do not have certain ingredients. Improvise with what you have.

Veggie Tacos
  • 2 fresh onions, cue ball size, chop all including green tops
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale (steamed and chopped, set aside)
  • 2 baby zucchini or 1 large chopped into half moons
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/3 of a yellow and 1/3 of a red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • Package sprouted corn tortillas. - This brand is my fav...
  • Lime
  • Avocado
  • 1/2 package queso fresco.
  1. Steam Kale....and chop - set aside
  2. Grate queso fresco, set aside.
  3. Slice lime into wedges, set aside.
  4. Saute your onion in oil of choice, we use olive.
  5. Throw in zucchini, salt to taste.
  6. Keep stirring those veggies, when zucchini is just tender, toss in garlic and cilantro and chili powder.
  7. Toss in peppers and kale... saute for about 3 more minutes. Nobody like soggy veggies... test often.
  8. Turn off when done.. let sit in pan uncovered.
  9. Make tortillas - We heat ours right over the open flame on the gas stove. Use tongs, heat both sides, and then wrap in towel until the package has all been heated.
  10. Assemble.... and eat. Top with queso and avocado and fresh lime juice. We happen to love Frontera Salsas, Rick Bayless does a nice job with his fire roasted flavors.
Eat and enjoy... Feel good about what you are eating.. I do!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jablkovy Zavin - Apple Strudel for my Grandmother

Grandma Grace is 94 years old and ready to let go of her body, ready to move on. Grandma Grace used Jello Pudding Mixes, and Betty Crocker cake mixes throughout her life, however she made all her pies from scratch, and her strudel. Grace is 100% Scottish and her mother in-law was from the Czech Republic. Her mother in-law Betty taught her what she knew about making Jablkovy Zavin, or Apple Strudel and other Czech pastries. Since my grandfather had such a sweet tooth, Grandma Grace had to keep up with her pastry making to keep her husbands sweet tooth satisfied. Thank you grandma for sharing these recipes and techniques with me.

I inherited several of Grace's recipe books, one in particular I like to use called Czechoslovak Pastries, from the 1952 Charlotte G. Masaryk Society in New York. In honor of Grandma Grace, I made 4 strudels last night. The recipe called for one strudel using a flour dough in the recipe. However, I used phyllo dough and ended up with 4 Apple Strudels.

Success.. and two of my strudels went to neighbors. Recipe is below, modified from Czechoslovak Pastries, 1952 . Great for a brunch as you will get plenty of slices out of these. Sometimes it feels much better to give away the baked goods than keep them to yourself.

Apple Strudel - Jablkovy Zavin
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs.... make your own... it will taste better - Fry the crumbs in 3 TBS. of butter... your choice of salted or unsalted butter. Fry up until nice and brown and you can smell them.
  • Slice up 4-5 apples...I used Pink Ladies as they are so nice, tart (not too tart) and crisp - Slice your apples nice and thin or chop up into smaller pieces. If slices are too large they will make it harder to roll your strudel.
  • Mix in to apples - 3/4 cup sugar, handful of raisins or 1/2 cup, 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and 12/ tsp. cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Melt 1 stick of butter and bring to work area with pastry brush.
  • Prepare your work area, you will use an entire package of phyllo dough. I use Athens Phyllo Dough or you can also use and organic version found at Whole Foods or your local coop. Start with 2-3 sheets of dough at a time. Brush with butter and then layer some more. Keep layering until you have 12 sheets or so. That is enough for 1 strudel. Do the same for the other 3. The more individually layer with butter.. the flakier it will be.
  • Sprinkle the fried bread crumbs over each of the strudel before you layer the apples.
  • Layer about 1 cup of filling lengthwise along on end of the dough. Start rolling away from you while tucking ends in. Keep rolling as if it was a jellyroll. Gently lay strudels onto large rimmed baking sheet - lay them across the width of the baking sheet. There will be room for 4.
  • Score the tops of the strudels. Put in hot 400 degree oven for 20 minutes and then turn down oven to 350. Keep in over for another 25 minutes. Watch them... keep that oven light on as you do not want to burn it.
  • Pull out.... eat warm... serve in thin slices with warm cream or good vanilla custard or ice cream.
Voila... Apple Strudel.. Easy too. Modifications to Recipe: Throw in lemon rind, leave out nuts, add in cranberries. Have fun with this. Make something to honor someone.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Love affair with my Vitamix

I just love it, can't get my hands off of it, pay more attention to it than my husband and it doesn't complain. This lovely machine is transforming my life and diet. Every day for the past 5 weeks, I have had the joy of drinking liquefied bliss. Always in my ball jar... always yummy. The big question is, has it helped me? Do I feel better? Has it put back sensation into my numb feet. Well, the answer is is, yes.

Yes, changing my diet(and that of my family) to include more living, alive and vibrant food sources has been a wonderful way to lighten us up, literally. I feel better. They feel better. I have a little bit of zing that rushes through me when I partake of these elixirs.
It fills a void in my diet, one that was sadly empty for some time. My feet are still numb due to an exacerbation of my MS. But... they have gotten so much better, my legs have regained so much sensation and strength and my feet are doing some serious nerve remodeling.. little by little. Is this all due to the new love of my life called Vitamix? Well not totally.

My healing has been a journey into my body, an every night, slowing down, a stopping and breathing and asking my body, "Are you okay? What do you need? Thank you for doing such and amazing job. You are amazing and I love you". It may sound crazy to talk to your body, but there is so much going on inside this body kingdom. Crazy internal warfare can take you down, literally.

Pay attention to your body, it likes it! Try it... turn off your brain tonight and say hello to your body and thank it for all it does for you. Every little cell will respond with an internal 'ahhhh' and 'Thank you for remembering me'. Our bodies do so much for us every day. We tax them. We stress out our bodies, feed them unkind foods. We do not rest. Our body says stop and we go go go....Not so nice considering we are asking our bodies to carry us on to a ripe old age.

Who knows why we get sick. Sometimes I think it is because of too much stress, or eating the wrong foods, or karmic retribution. On the other hand, trying to figure out why or why not we become ill is a crazy game of which came first. Let it go. It is what it is. Regardless of how we become ill, we are ill and we can turn inside and let our body do what it is to do. Accept what we are given and deal with it. This doesn't mean, sit around all day and eat Baby Ruth candy bars and wash it down with a Miller. If we are breathing, we are alive and we can meditate on just that.. being alive and our breath.

Food nourishes us as does our breath. Today in my kitchen, my intention will be on being 100% present with my food preparation. All the other worries of my day I will turn off (try my best). As I regain more energy, I am moving back into the kitchen and remaking my kitchen character. Instead of frantic mother... stressed out from long day at work and immediately cooking 4 star meal for family, I want to move to...
Mother who takes a rest before food prep, gives herself and body breaks, and lives and breathes with her meal preparation. My kiddos will be along side of me, helping their mother while learning how to cook, in the kitchen and breathe and move as we prepare our meal.

As I sat with my Vitamix this morning, I looked around to see what I could turn into goodness. Out came a wonderful pear,honey and dandelion smoothie. Loved it so much, I decided to paint my kitchen wall, pear green. This drink kept me moving all morning long. Looking forward to adding some protein into tomorrows drink.

  • 1 ripe delicious pear
  • 1 TBS raw honey
  • 6-8 dandelion greens
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 pieces lettuce
  • 1TBS coconut oil
  • handful of ice and 1/2 cup water
Whip it up and enjoy! Off to cooking a healing meal with my kiddos.

As we push our tears into the earth, they fall from the sky as rain.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Sitting in the hospital for 13 days and 14 nights makes one realize that hospital food really sucks bigtime. How horrible it was to open the blue plastic dome tray and discover parboiled rice and mush broccoli. Yuck.. and that was a healthy choice on the menu. Luckily all my friends and family doted upon me with loving gestures. One of which was keeping Miss Megan well fed with wonderful healing food. Lori, my elfin nurse/PA friend, brought be amazing green smoothies... every day, much to the chagrin of my other nurses who scoffed and turned up their noses when they saw me slurping the brown green drinks with a passion.

Upon release from food prison, I quickly ordered up my favorite new toy in the kitchen... a Vitamix. Heavens, life could not get much better. I finally can compete with the boys. I have my own engine to rev...and a full 2 HP at that! Every morning now begins with the hummmmm of my Vitamix, whipping up some masterful drink full of nutrient goodness. I love it! I call it my own personal whipper
snapper.... because it whips up goodness in a snap.

I am officially charting my goodness in the making...I may deter from health conscious and delve into feel good foods.. but hell... one life to live... we can't always be drinking dandelion juice.

Today's Magic
  • 6-8 dandelion greens
  • 2 Ataulfo/Champagne Mangoes
  • 4-6 large pieces of red leaf lettuce
  • 2 Tbs Coconut Oil
  • 1" piece of ginger or more to your liking
  • nicely sized lemon wedge with peel on 3"x1"
  • handful of ice
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup water
Throw it all in the Vitamix on high. Blend until nice and smooth and presto.. you have an awesome green drink to share. Add more greens if you like it 'greenier' otherwise this smoothie has a nice balance of sweet to green. High in yumminess and nutritional content. Drink up!