Friday, August 27, 2010

Salmon Dinner


This salmon dinner ended up being simple enough to make and really satisfying. I made the homefries recipe with yukon gold potatoes and butter, substituting some dry thyme for the Mrs. Dash. I used V's salmon rub, leaving out the savory because we didn't have any and subbing rapadura for the sugar (which I cut in half). I broiled the salmon for six minutes while I boiled the kale in some beef stock I had from making potroast last week. It was really delicious and satisfying and didn't cost me much in the way of hands-on time - it would have been even less if I'd made brown rice instead of the potatoes.

Corn Tortilla Trial and Mostly Error


This is actually the third time I've tried to make corn tortillas from scratch. Maybe the fourth. I made the masa from scratch following the directions I posted earlier. I tried using three different food processors and actually the  Cuisinart seemed to work the best. I got a tortillas press to make them thinner. It worked a lot better than using the cutting boards to squish them but they still just weren't very good. I think I'll try one more time and grind my corn before soaking it. If that doesn't work, I'll be buying my corn tortillas from here on out. The masa does at least work well in cornbread.

Macaroons


I've been on the prowl for grain-free dessert options other than those black bean brownies. I found the macaroon recipe a while ago and finally got around to trying it now that I have unsweetened coconut in my pantry. They looked really promising on the pan but I couldn't get them off the cookie sheet. They're a mess of crumbles in a tupperware at the moment. They taste great though. I'm going to try to make a pie crust out of the failure. Next time, I need to grease the pan more thoroughly and do a better job at not deflating the egg whites I guess. I think they definitely have promise - just need to work out my kinks.

http://www.healthhomehappy.com/2009/12/coconut-macaroons-review-of-tropical-traditions.html

Stuffed Zucchini


I had a bunch of random things in my fridge and came up with this meal. All things considered, I was really impressed with myself. I would even make it again.

2 old zucchini
2 old poblano peppers
8 freezer burnt leftover meatballs
1/2 cup cream, 5 days past expiration
3 egg yolks, leftover from using the whites

Food process thawed meatballs, eggs, and enough cream to make a spreadable consistency out of it all. Add some salt.


Slice the zucchini and peppers in half and scoop out the seeds. Fill them with the meat mixture and put in a greased pyrex.


Bake at 375' for about 45 minutes or until tender. Serve with yam fries.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Azure Standard


Other than the SoCal Farmer's Markets, this has been my favorite food sourcing find so far. I've been nothing but super impressed with Azure Standard since I found out about them. They're out of Dufur, OR (Portland area). Weirdly enough, I've actually been to Dufur, OR. Anyway, they have truck routes that deliver goods around the Western States once a month. Their catalog is on their website but you have to give them your email address to see their prices.

This month I got 50 lbs of soft white wheat to turn into whole grain pastry flour, 50 lbs of organic rolled oats to use for breakfasts, 5 lbs of sea salt, 5 lbs of organic potatoes, 3 lbs of organic onions, 12 cans of coconut milk for curry, and 1 gallon of raw honey. It's enough cheaper than the local honey I get at the FM that I'm going to start using it in my cooked goods and keep the local stuff with the local pollen benefits for raw and low-temperature uses. And no, I'm not planning on using this all in the next month.

They have a ton of organic foods at great prices but I was most excited to see the bulk grain options. I had ordered some things previously from Walton Feed and was really happy with their quality, but the shipping was costing me as much as the goods I was ordering. If you can drive to Bear Lake, ID and pick up your order, they're a great resource. But since I can't, I was really happy to find Azure Standard.

They have drop off points that are already established (or you can start a new one if you have a big enough ordering pool). There's a drop off here that's only 10 minutes from my house so it is really convenient for me. If you pick up your goods at the drop off point, there is no charge for shipping. No charge! I am thrilled about that since most of what I want to order comes in 50 lb packages. For the record, you don't have to buy things in bulk from them, I am just doing that because it's a lot cheaper per unit. There is a $50 minimum order for the free shipping deal but there's no commitment to order every month and no other hidden fees.

I've ordered from them twice now and have been really happy with the results. Currently, I'm using my monthly orders to restock my food storage grains and buy some of my specialty items in bulk- like the Celtic Sea Salt and mung beans for sprouting. They have a ton of items available though. They also have produce available in bulk, seasonally. I'm debating using them for my tomatoes to can since I haven't been impressed with my upick options here. But I'll probably stick to the Farmer's Market for that. We'll see.

Eventually, I'd like to use Azure Standard to replace Costco in my shopping routine. I'm just not quite ready to give that up yet. I do realize that Azure goods are still being trucked in to me so they're not exactly local and I'm not necessarily buying directly from the farmer (though Azure does produce many of their products). But I am eliminating some of the middle man steps and that makes me happy. They are at least in the West even if they're not that close to me. They also have great selection and quality on the specialty-items I like and I've been happy with their prices. Plus, I've met the man who drives the truck with my food in it. I know his name. I've seen pictures of the farm that grew my wheat. I think that's very cool.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sprouts


Sprouts is a natural food store that recently opened near my house. I go there for my last-minute sundries. I try not to have those but they just don't seem to ever go away entirely. I also buy my vitamin supplements and organic milk for making yogurt with there. We've started taking cod liver oil capsules and a multi-vitamin in the mornings. The monkey loves getting her 'i-mins'.

If you're in the SLC area, the Sunflower Market is very similar to Sprouts.

Update 9/26: I randomly read the label on my Sprouts milk and found out they add milk solids (powdered milk) to the fresh milk. Gah. It really hadn't occurred to me I needed to read the label on my organic milk! I've since switched over to Clover Dairy Organic milk for my pasteurized milk needs. It's the only non-ultra-pasteurized milk I've found so far without milk solids added. I had no idea that was so prevalent. I buy it at Whole Foods.

Coconut Oil



I've decided to use a lot more coconut oil in our diet after reading "Eat Fat, Lose Fat". It's been really easy to substitute in for pretty much anything. I bought this 5 gal container from Tropical Traditions online. Not local and delivered in the mail, but it should last us for a long time and is cheaper than organic butter. I tried out their Gold Label stuff first but we didn't like the coconut flavor permeating all of our dishes. This has much less flavor and was way cheaper. I didn't bother getting organic because coconuts are a low-spray crop and I trusted the company based on what I'd read to use high quality ingredients.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CSA California



I've started using csacalifornia again. We just eat a lot more produce when I get a csa bag instead of trying to buy my everything at the farmer's market. Even if it's a bit more expensive and has a middleman, it is all organic and local and farm fresh. Oh, and the pickup is convenient. 

The above picture was the bag from two weeks ago. We had the potatoes and corn with potroast, zucchini in eggs, kale stir-fried with salmon cakes and brown rice, and the broccoli's still sitting around waiting to go into soup. Sad. But the fruit isn't too hard to get rid of around here.


This is the bag from last week for a comparison. I've used some of the heirloom tomatoes on salad but I still have some sitting around. The ripe avocado was eaten quickly but the other two are still on the counter ripening. The lettuce went quickly, the carrots are still waiting for me to chop them up into mirepoix, and I found a recipe for sauerkraut today that I'm going to try out on the cabbage. I'll probably use the leeks in mirepoix too - because the potato leek soup I made with the last round was just awful. I made quiche with the spinach and I really appreciated the apples as a portable toddler treat. They're the first of the season. I actually didn't like the fresh figs at all so I'm going to stick them in the dehydrator and see if I like them better. I've also got a bunch of fresh garlic that I'm not going thru fast enough so I need to dehydrate that too - just not at the same time. Sounds like I've got some preservation work to do before my next bag comes this week.

TJ's


I use Trader Joe's in a pinch. My oldest sister re-introduced me to Ezekiel bread when she was here to visit so I've actually been buying bread lately. It's been a nice change of pace for the fun-filled summer days but I don't expect it to last. The eggs I would normally buy at the farmer's market but we haven't made it there in a long while. I usually end up getting my organic onions at a grocery store. I don't have a good reason for it. The red peppers were a last minute dinner ingredient for chili, the cream was for a dinner party, and the grapes were for the Monkey who looooves grapes. Now that they're finally in season, I'm pretty much buying them every time I set food in a produce aisle. Which isn't really that often I guess. Oh, the fiji water. haha. Yeah, that was for Disneyland because they only let commercial water bottles in the door and it was the biggest bottle TJ's had.

Costco trip


I've decided to do a few posts on where I buy my food. It's what I've been thinking about the most since we moved to LA. I wanted to start with Costco because it's the bottom of my list for sustainable food sourcing. It still fills a niche for me that I'm not ready to give up though. I have scaled back a ton on the things I buy there and I don't go nearly as often, but I haven't found better options yet for some of the things that have become my staples.



The picture above was from my last trip in June. Yes, that's 6 lbs of organic butter. I haven't found a better price on that yet. Their cheeses are great. We always keep Parmesan Reggiano on hand and I've been using the fresh mozzarella on our pizzas tho I want to start making the mozzarella from scratch next month. Macadamia nuts are my guilty pleasure for snack time. The canned salmon is for salmon-style crab cakes but I don't love my recipe enough to post it yet. We use the frozen blueberries in smoothies and the frozen veggies in fried rice when I'm in a hurry. The real maple syrup was our main sweet-flavoring for a while but now we mostly use local honey. I read that unless you buy organic maple syrup, they use formaldehyde in the processing so I quit buying it for now. Kirkland Extra Virgin Olive Oil is so much cheaper than any other evoo I've found. I have read about issues with truth-in-labeling with olive oils so I know I'm risking quality by buying the cheap stuff but I'm okay with that for now.


Alright, this is the haul from today's trip. More olive oil, butter and mac nuts. Less butter this time because I have a 5-gal drum of coconut oil in my kitchen now. I finally got the Weston A Price Foundation's shopping guide and they have Grey Poupon listed under the 'best' category of condiments so that is totally back in our diet now! I really like the Dubliner cheddar Costco has. It is really satisfying with just toast and fruit for a lunch. The babybel cheeses are actually a treat for our upcoming Disney trips - I wanted something portable and substantial. The colby is just cheap and I like colby for quessadillas. We've been eating a lot of those lately. I would prefer to make my own (cheese) but I'm not that cool yet. And I don't love the raw cheeses I've tried so I'm still getting it for now. Apparently, the milk used to make commercial cheeses is really low quality, so I'd like to figure out how to make my own out of better quality ingredients - like I did for yogurt.

The fish is my effort to eat more seafood. They actually had a few wild caught seafood options there. I was impressed. I got the frozen mahi and salmon but they also had frozen sea bass and fresh salmon fillets (they may have been previously frozen, not sure). There's a place in Santa Monica that's local and fresh and supposed to be awesome but by all accounts, it's pretty spendy so I haven't tried them out yet. I did find out that if I wake up super early on Saturday mornings, I can go to the San Pedro pier and buy fish off the dock. I'm excited about that option because I'd be buying pretty much directly from the fishermen and getting the freshest fish and best deal in town. They close at 8am though so it hasn't happened yet...