sheep lover from an early age!

sheep lover from an early age!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How's it cooking dahl?...


"What's dahl?"

Check out Wikipedia for a bit of a run down...

Dahl, besides being a great author of kids' books, including Charlie and the Chocolate factory, is a dish of lentils or pulses, a real staple in India, and I bet in some of it's neighbouring countries too.

They are tons of different dahls and I'm sure tons upon tons of different ways of preparation and flavouring. Some recipes I've seen in snazzy cookbooks seem ridiculously time consuming for such a staple everyday dish. But judging by the piccys they probably taste downright exotic.

However, over 20 years ago when I was in India for some months, I fell in love with the simplest of dahls, dutifully prepared every week by the cooks at the Meher Baba Pilgrim Center, outside of Ahmednagar, in Maharastra state.

This dahl was simply made of little yellow hulled split moong beans, and seasoned only with salt, garlic and ghee. I cannot tell you how that warm creamy dahl mixed with a little plain white basmati sang love songs in my mouth. It was the taste of home, of comfort, of peace. Salt, garlic and ghee? Maybe I was just succumbing to the spiritually charged atmosphere? Or maybe the simpleness of it was a welcome change from eating spicy Indian food everyday.

For a long time I played with dahl making, frying the dahl first to enhance the nutty flavour, adding complex masalas after spending a whole arvo hand roasting one spice at a time and grounding it up in my old coffee grinder. Then one day it hit me, why don't I just make dahl with salt, garlic and ghee?

Tonight I made some, and then, I just have to confess, I added turmeric (strictly for it's anti-inflammatory properties of course) plus a tiny pinch of asafoetida (hing), which I am addicted to the smell of. Try it... It's a love or hate kinda thing, is hing.

Also, I made a tadka, which is extra bits and spices fried in oil and popped on top of the dahl. Now don't be mad, but I just had to use up the homegrown red onion, a lonely leftover jalapeno, plus farmer's market tomatoes and cilantro just sitting in the fridge... and the cumin... well, that was just for kicks, I promise.

I didn't even serve it with rice! Oh my gosh... you must be so disappointed with me. It's just that I had some lovely new spuds and zucchinis to use, so I couldn't very well not, could I?

So much for that simple comforting dahl... Okay, I blew it, but it still tasted homemade and nourishing. Just the way I like my tucker!

Here's how to make a dahl:

Put some split moong dahl (also seen as mung dal) in a pot
Let soak for a while in water. Drain and cook in fresh water or broth
Bring to a simmer and remove scum that forms
Then add ghee, tumeric, fresh garlic (fresh ginger is good too)
More water may need to be added as it cooks
Once it starts going creamy, be careful, it can easily burn.

Season generously with salt (& pepper too if you want)
It's ready when it's consistancy is totally creamy.

Serve as thick or thin as you like. Eat like soup or pour over rice.
Very nice with an Indian pickle such as hot mango or lime.

If you want to dress it up with a tadka, just fry up a little onion, garlic, cumin seeds, tomato, cilantro... whatever you like and throw it on the top of the dahl just
before serving.

So, get cooking dahl, darls....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fruit Bush City Limits

I'm fortunate enough to be living on a tiny vineyard, and I've found a delish-kiss way to use up the extra fruity bits that are hanging around here in the outer city limits of Sunny Sonoma. There's a couple of peach trees, lots of blackies growing madly along the creek, plus after the October harvest (here in wine country), they'll be tasty seedy leftovers on the cab sav vines.

I don't partake of the vino anymore, (but don't worry, I've had my share) so I'm glad to have happened upon a delightful little summer drink that I can home make with this fruity abundance, called Coconut Fruit Shrub. It's from a book on my recco'd list called "Eat Fat, Lose Fat" by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the reskipees in this book. Fabulous, with a big coconut influence - afterall, I am a South Pacific girl!

Anyways, here's the way to make fruit shrub or bush as I call it:

Any fruity bits... 'bout 2 cups, and crush it up
(I use peaches & blackberries together or grape alone)
1 cup Coconut Vinegar
(available in Asian stores and now at Whole Foods)
5 cups of water (I use filtered creek)

Mix it all up in a glass container. Cover tightly and leave at room temp for a couple of days. Strain and then put the bush juice in the fridge. I like to freeze the fruit pulp leftovers and use it as a garnish for porridge or yoghurt, etc. It's kinda soury sweet and I think very delish-kiss... but! don't keep the grape stuff 'cause of the seeds.

Whoops... back to the bush: To serve, mix 1/2 a cup of bush juice with 1 to 2 cups of plain sparkly water, add a pinch of celtic sea salt and I like to add a squeeze of lime. For me on a hot summers day, it works like an electrolite drink, and if you stick it in a fancy glass with ice and a mint sprig, your mates will think you're rather posh. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ratatat -touille

Ratatouille... that delight-filled french veggie stew. What a great way to get those important servings of veggies in your tummy. The smell of sensual summer veggie roasting intoxication, wafting off the stove, and up your nose it goes!

The most important ingredient in a ratatouille, imho, is that you make homemade roasted red peppers to go in it. I know you can buy 'em in a jar, but they just don't compare.

It's easy to roast peppers, here's how:

Get your hands on some nice ripe red ones, deep red, not wimpy pale ones. Getting them in season from a farmer's market is pretty important. Hopefully you have a gas stove (if not I feel sorry for you and just oven roast or broil them). Turn on the flame and lay the peppers directly on it to slowly blacken them bit by bit. You must stay in the kitchen while doing this, otherwise it's unsafe. Once blackened mostly all over, pop them in a brown paper bag, seal and let them steam in their own sauna for a little while.

Once cooled down a bit, pull them out whole and gently scrape off the peel and remove seeds and pith. Leave in their natural state of pulled apart sections or slice. Soak in a nice bath (you always bath after a sauna, right?) of really top notch extra virgin olive oil & good sea salt (I use celtic). They will keep in the fridge for several days.

Mine kept long enough for me to use today to make ratatouille for a bbq. We have to take a dish and a story to go with it. My story will be about rats... But at least my ratatouille won't taste like 'em!

Basic ingredients for ratatouille are:
extra virgin olive oil
fresh garlic and basil
eggplant and tomatoes
zuchinni (I use a mixture of green and yellow and cut them into different shapes for each color just coz it looks good).
roasted peppers (red are best, but yellows are nice too)

and I added red onions and portabellos to mine today.

Hope you are having a lovely storybook dish of your own today...
I'm off to a barbie!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A pot roast healing

I decided the other day to have it out with this pot roast thing. I still didn't get it. What the heck is a pot roast? Having not grown up with them, their mystique has eluded this little aussie through her many years of state-side-um. Well, I decided to just go for it! I was going to have a pot roast healing or ....well old leftovers!

I dusted off the slow cooker that lives on top of the fridge... and ...well just so you know, I'm not a reskipee person, which is why I call them reskipees... I skip around recipes. Basically, here's what I threw in the pot:

a 2lb grassfed chuck roast
2 big oak hill farms carrots
2 ribs of celery
1 whole star anise (just for fun)
1 lonely bay leaf
a hunk of organic ginger nob
sprigs of fresh parsley and flowering thyme from the garden
celtic sea salt & tons of black pepper
1 cup of cab sav (cheap stuff)
2 cups of my jaggy baby's chook broth (see my reskipee)

I cooked it on high for 3 hours, then low for several more. The first tasting was okay. The meat was very soft. Two and three days later, this dish became heaven in my mouth. Every bite felt like pure soul food and my body was calmly gloating as the meat melted in my mouth. The little hint of my naughtiness disguised as star anise was a bright surprise. Now I want you to have fun making your own version of a pot roast healing but, if you're not like me and want a real recipe, go to the or Those nice sheilahs' will do you right, I'm sure. They have all kinds of proper reskipees. And please don't be mad, but I think I mighta added a tiny bit of tomato sauce as well... sorry, I just can't remember! Please use your best judgement, responsibly...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How Jaggy Baby makes her Chook Broth

So many people have asked me what is bone broth and how do you make it...
It's bloody good old fashioned stock, that's what it is!

I learned how to make it from someone who adapted it from the book "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon (see my recommended book list)

Using bone broth has made a huge difference in my health. I've being using it for a while, but got extra serious about it after being diagnosed with an autoimmune illness. My doctor recommends I have 2 to 3 cups a day. Now I make it every week and consume it on a regular basis.

I have left in the local supermarket references for those who live in Sonoma County.

Using chicken backs and necks + feet is the best and cheapest... Feet make your broth really healthy as they are full of collogen and other minerals. Of course if you have access to chooks who have been running around in a paddock, they are the best... go for it!


All ingredients available at Sonoma Market ... however I would buy the carrots, parsley and onions from Paul's Produce at the farmers market....

In freezer section (ask Meat counter blokes or the sheilah (all one of her) if you can't find them)
I smaller size package chicken necks and backs
I smaller size package chicken feet
one whole organic chicken (take offal out of chicken, rinse and use)
Whole Foods often sell backs and necks, but not feet unfortunately.

Put these in a LARGE soup kettle with thick bottom, stainless steel, or enamalled cast iron, preferably. Gently bring to a simmer and scrap off scum that rises to the top.

Now add:
a good splash of raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother
(this helps leach the minerals out of the bones)
2 good pinches of Celtic sea salt (I buy fine ground from bulk section)
2 good sized carrots chopped in large pieces
2 stalks celery chopped in large pieces
3 shitake mushrooms
2 pieces of Kombu or some nettle (both add more minerals to broth)
1 onion cut in half (leave skin on if organic)
3 garlic cloves
a 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger

cook on low simmer for 8 to 24 hours. (I usually cook mine for about 20 hrs)

Add some organic italian parsley 30 minutes before turning broth off heat if you want to add exta minerals. Sticks of astragulus in broth from the beginning will also enhance the inmunity properties of the broth. They are available from SM bulk herbs and spices counter.

I usually top off the pot with additional water after a few hours of simmering when the water level has dropped. Once cooking is done, let it cool off a little, so it's easier to handle, but when still warm, strain thru a fine strainer. Put in containers (preferably glass) and pop in fridge.

Leave overnight. Skim congealed fat off top of broth next morning or leave it in the broth, which is what I often do. This fat is healthy if chickens are, so use it for frying or sauteeing. Animals love it if you don't want to use it. Broth can now be frozen for later use.

Broth will be gelantinous, especially if you use the feet! Heat and enjoy with a teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil in each serving, use the broth in your daily cooking, or like I often do, season it with gluten free tamari, hot pepper sauce, a little fish sauce & a dash of coconut milk. Extreme yummy factor, here I come!

Never microwave to heat up... why destroy something you just put your soul into? Sip and feel the nourishment...

This broth heals your gut, makes your skin look lovely and my nails have never been so strong. This obviously means it's helping my bones too. Let's knock mugs... Cheers mate!

Getting at the crusty bits

I was enjoying a lovely massage one morning, when my massage therapist Colleen and I discussed the possibility of me blogging about my journey back to health. Since I got sober nearly 7 years ago, an addiction to sugar has surfaced with a vengeance. I say surfaced because it was always there... I was just drinking the sugar rather than laying my face into a 1.5 quart of Breyers.

One step on this healing journey is going to be about getting at the crusty bits. "Pardon?" you say... well you might if you were an Aussie like me, but you said excuse me? ... Hey, I can work with that...

Some of us might have crusty bits that we need to deal with in order to get well. One of the ways I am using to support my ol' crusty self right now is to eat really delish-kiss nourishing food. Now, everyone knows that food tastes extra good when you deglaze the pan of all the crusty bits, so my life might just get even more tasty, if I get all the crusty bits adhered in me, offa me!

Side note here: Seeing that I don't always have booze in my home, I often use Kombucha to deglaze my pans if I want a sweeter tasting jus or I'll use Apple Cider Vinegar for a sourer sauce. Ooooh, makes you wanna smack your lips! More on sober sauces later...

So in addition to making yourself (and your family) happy with fabulous tasting tucker (oz speak for food), you might also look into making everyone (including yourself) happier by deglazing any "crusts" that are hanging onto you.

But, be warned... getting at our emotional crusty bits requires extreme gentleness, so be sure to use the "loving self kindness" rather than the "harsh judging" method. By no means should you hack away at crusty bits with a chisel! Just let that old stuck-on rubbish come up to breathe for a few seconds at first, try to relax and let it soak, and before long, you'll see that it sometimes just peels off real easy.

At other times, it might take lots of self care, understanding, and loving forgiveness, which is something some of us might have to learn or re-learn. But, do not worry, we will all get there, one baby step at a time. Just keep practicing.

Lately, I have come to believe that I don't need to actually play with my crusts, I can just cut them off or give them away to a friend who loves them! In other words interrupt the negative or sad thoughts and give them over to my God bloke. He seems to know what to do with them when I just don't have a clue.

In looking at myself, I see that I do have a tough crust. However, I am also realizing that the thoughts I'm having about my crusty bits are just thoughts about the past or the future and that "old stale" crusts or future "imagined" crusty situations, really have nothing to do with the real me or who I am, today. You know, I think I am getting ready to shed my crust... Look! there's another crack! Until it's totally gone though, I might just pretend that I don't have a crust anymore. I am an open faced sandwich whose crusts have been trimmed.

Btw.. that's a piccy of my favorite "crust muncher" up there beside me. You can borrow Him if you like, until you get your own.