Monday, October 21, 2019

Full: Do you have a story?

October 21, 2019 0
In the very beginning of Full, Asheritah (yes I know that we're not friends but this is what I'm going to call the author because life is like that sometimes) shares a story about eating leftover cake followed by a 30 day fast that lead to an awakening of the control that food has over her. She says that most folks who struggle with food fixation have one of those stories. I thought that I'd share mine.

My first official diet was between eighth and ninth grade. My mom took me to Weight Watchers and I remember one of the women there telling me that she wished that WW had been around when she was my age. I lost weight, I could wear smaller clothes that were in abundance in all the stores. It was life-changing. So what that I had to eat a certain number of eggs every week, take carrots and dry tuna pita pockets for lunch most every day. Worth it. But the truth was that it started a fantasy, one that I still struggle with. The fantasy that if I could just control the food, I could control the weight, I could control my emotions, I could be happy all the time. That doesn't actually happen in real life. We aren't happy all the time, who would want to be around that kind of person anyway?

Fast forward a couple of years, I'm a young adult, newly married, and WW points are the latest thing. Now here was something that added my love of controlling food and controlling numbers. I was hooked. I would calculate every point that passed my lips and would not stray from the numbers. There were no cheat days, I saw my life stretching out before me with every food I ever at owning a numerical value. Bliss! Until that one night that we had pizza. I had budgeted enough to have a slice, maybe two. I was still hungry and I wanted another one. I remember sitting on the sofa crying because I wanted more pizza but didn't have any more points! I went to bed but in the process, I woke up to the reality of the grip that food had over me. 

It took me a few more years to actually find some freedom. I went through an online Bible study that someone off an internet chat group recommended. It was life-changing but in a good way. I finally got that freedom that I had wanted all along. It was just happiness it was an ability to serve God first and foremost. 

Here's the thing that I've learned since then. It's not one and done for me. I found freedom but I have to continue to seek it each and every day. I fall back into old habits, I lift up ways of eating or not eating as it may be. I seek to control food as a way to control my entire life. But I keep tumbling back into this one unmoveable truth, I'm not in control of my life. I have control over my actions sometimes I even question that but I've learned that I can't stop the pain, sorrow, deep joy, heartbreak. Not with food or exercise or mind-numbing activities, none of it. And I think that's why I am so excited to read this book and I want other people to read it with me. There's freedom out there to be had and it's not necessarily going to be the freedom from the desire to control food. It is going to be the freedom to choose God in each and every moment of the day.

As we start this journey through the book Full, I want to hear your story. I want to know what moment comes to mind when you think about your relationship with food. Share in the comments, send me a message, give me a call. I want to know. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Quick Meals: I Need a Knife?

October 15, 2019 0
Old Faithful

That right there is old faithful. That knife has been with us for over 15 years and it's been a true workhorse. In fact, it is in my mind part of the reason that meal prep is what it is at our house. You see, I believe that you have to have a very good, very sharp knife in order to prepare meals quickly. If not, you spend so much time trying to muscle a dull knife through tasks that should be effortless. Chopping an onion should be a matter of seconds. Granted part of that is technique but a big part of it is the knife. So let's go through some questions you may have about knives and meal prep. Oh and as a reminder, any link that takes you to Amazon is an affiliate link, I get a little something-something if you decide to buy when you click through. Don't worry, you don't pay extra, Amazon gives it to me as a thank you for sharing products.

How many do I need?

At the very least, you need is one really good knife. If you have more than one chef, two would also acceptable. Shown below is a 6-inch chef knife, good for just about everything and a santuko which is really great for vegetables and okay for meats. 

How do I find the right one?

First, I would go to someplace that carries knifes such as Williams-Sonoma or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Hold them in your hand, get a feel for them. I personally prefer what's called a full tang knife, it has the metal running all the way through the blade. This style creates more weight but it also provides a different balance. You may find that you prefer the lighter weight of a 3/4 or less tang. The type of metal also makes a difference, some are alloys, others are lighter metals that have been hardened by differing techniques. A good salesperson should be able to point out the varieties available.

Look at the different lengths of a six-inch and an eight-inch.
It's not just the length that is changed with those numbers. 

Is a knife really worth THAT much money?

Now, once you get an idea of the length, type of tang, maybe even a specific brand, start shopping around for the best deal. You may be surprised by the amount of money you're going to spend if you're looking to buy a Wusthof or JA Henckels. Yes, these knives cost more, yes you are getting what you pay for. They hold a sharpening better, tend to be better balanced, and generally come with a pretty great guarantee that you're never going to have to use. But if you need something on a budget, Cook's Country highly recommends the Winco chef knife easily found on Amazon for under twenty bucks. I would recommend the 6 over the 8 as the 8 is a behemoth. We have one, it works but it's not a favorite. We got it to use while the other knives get sharpened.

What about those knife skillzzz you mentioned?

Okay, so a sharp knife isn't all you need to help cut down the time it takes to get a meal on the table. You also need to work on your knife skills. You can oftentimes find classes at local Williams-Sonoma stores or someplace that's selling kitchen wares. You can also take online courses, like this free one from Bluprint called Complet Knife Skills Cooking Class. And then, there's YouTube. If you want someone on one over the web or in-person if you're local send me an email and we'll set something up. 

You didn't tell me they were that sharp!

Listen, if you've been using those free knives you picked up from the bank when you opened an account in 1987, you're in for a surprise. Knives can be sharp, like "Where did that blood come from?" "Whose finger is that?" sharp. Never look away when you're using it. Always watch the blade and where it's going. It's not a pointer, lay it flat on the counter or in the sink. When you go to wash it, don't let it sit at the bottom of the sink because you're going to reach into a painful mistake. Always wash your good knife by hand, it takes three seconds, and it's good for you and your knife in the long run. 

Might want to buy a box of band-aid to go with your knife.

Can I buy used?

Of course you can! They are all over ebay. Just be aware that not everyone treats their knives very well and older ones tend to get little bits knocked off the sharp edge over time. You'll need to have someone that you trust sharpen them for you. 

Wait! I have more questions!

Okay, great! Leave a comment below and I'll do my best to find you an answer!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Apple Crisp 4x4

October 09, 2019 0

My folks used to do a lot of RV camping together and along their journeys, they found this amazing recipe. Even though it's called Apple Crisp 4X4, it's really for any fruit that you run across. It's great with peaches, berries, rhubarb, might even be nice with some pumpkin puree.

Apple Crisp 4x4

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup uncooked rolled oats (not instant)
2 cups sugar (feel free to mix and match)
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter until pea-size mix. Divide into 4 freezer bags and freeze.

To make crisp: Sprinkle one bag over 4 cups of fruit, add a dash of cinnamon on top. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 40 minutes. Enjoy!

As a side note, the amount of sugar can be reduced by probably half if you're concerned about such things, play around with it and see what you think.

For a printable recipe click here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Kettle Corn 2.0

October 08, 2019 0

I remember the first time I ever had kettle corn. I was in college, visiting France for the spring semester of my junior year. We went to the movie theater and bought some popcorn, it was a sweet, salty, crunchy revelation. I couldn't believe that this was something I hadn't had before.

I've had my fair share of kettle corn since then, even learning how to make it at home with relative ease. And that is all thanks in large part to the Whirley Pop.

This device is an amazing addition to your kitchen and if you're a popcorn lover, you'll wonder where it's been your whole life.

Now, on to the kettle corn here's the recipe:

Plain Jane Kettle Corn

1/3 cup of popcorn kernels
!/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup white sugar

dash of salt

Place kernels, oil, and sugar in the Whirley Pop, spin a few times to mix the ingredients. Place on stove over medium-high heat. Spin the handle until the popping slows, dump into a large bowl and sprinkle with a dash of salt. Toss to coat, let cool and then enjoy.

You can get a printable copy here.

Now here's the 2.0 part. Once you have the kettle corn, you can top it with just about anything you want. I've explored all kinds of options. You can add a little vanilla or peppermint extract when you pop it, then throw in some white chocolate chips so they get all nice and melty. You can grind up some freeze-dried fruit and sprinkle it over the top when it first comes off the stove. Apple with some additional sugar and apple pie spice is amazing. But the most popular is probably cinnamon sugar. Wow, that stuff is good. Just make sure that you have it ready to add as soon as it comes off the stove so that it can stick to the popcorn.

Let me know in the comments what type of topping you'd put on your kettle corn!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Cranberry Frappe

October 04, 2019 0

This is one of our family favorites at Thanksgiving. We inherited this recipe from Joel's family and then modified the method to create something that is pretty amazing.

I'll share the original recipe and then our modifications afterward.

Cranberry Frappe

  1. Add 1 cup of boiling water to 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries that have been washed and picked over (bad ones tossed). Cook until mushy and put through a food mill.
  2. Cook together until sugar is dissolved 4 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar
  3. Add syrup mixture to cranberries and grated rind and juice of a large lemon
  4. Freeze until mushy in a shallow pans, such as cake pans or non-divided ice cube trays
  5. Beat mixture with an electric mixer and refreeze.
  6. Serve in stemmed glasses for prettiest effect.

As you can see, it's a pretty straightforward recipe. Here's what we do different, instead of putting the mixture in the freezer, we let it sit in the fridge overnight and then the next day, we run it through our ice cream machine. It makes the most amazing, soft, frozen cranberry dish. A definite crowd pleaser and a nice alternative to the canned shaped cranberries that normally show up. Let me know if you give it a try!

You can find a printable copy here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Savory Green Beans and Caramelized Onions

September 24, 2019 0
This is one of my favorite green bean recipes of all time! I keep frozen green beans around and just toss it all together as a last-minute side quite often. The other day, I served it with chicken rollatina (I modified the recipe by dipping the rolls in melted butter, exactly what it needed and thus the name change). I don't even cook the green beans beforehand. After caramelizing the onions, I toss them in frozen and put the lid on the pan. A few minutes later, I toss it all together and sprinkle on whatever nut and dried fruit I have on hand.

Here's the recipe link from Bird's Eye:  Savory Green Beans & Caramelized Onions

Monday, September 23, 2019

Cookbook Review: Home Sausage Making

September 23, 2019 0

Let me start off by saying that I love sausage. Last year, Joel was taking brats and smoking them on the grill and they were amazing! And this was just plain ol' store bought brats we were eating. I can't wait to make our own brats and smoke them this summer!! WOOT WOOT!

Okay, so this book is great for a beginner, there's information about ingredients and picking them as well as tools that you'll need, pros and cons of different varieties. Now we already have an electric meat grinder, so I wasn't in the market to change, but a hand grinder does sound like it would be awesome.

The recipes themselves are divided into several different genres from pork to game to poultry to fish to vegetable. Throughout the recipes are areas that focus on techniques, including a lengthy section on aged meat sausages, something I'm not sure I'm quite ready to give a go. And there are stories from various different sausage makers and their tips. The one that I heard over and over through the book is to be willing to try something new and don't expect perfection, but know that it will be tasty.

I was very excited to see a recipe for apple and pork sausage. Joel's favorite sausage is apple and comes from a small butcher shop in Queen Anne, a neighborhood in Seattle, WA. I made up a batch last night. It was actually quite fun and I think it has the potential to be tweaked to give him something comparable if not better than what he remembers.

Here's a couple pics from my sausage making adventure.

When you like the idea of mis en place but you hate doing dishes, things like this happen.

I was amazed at the pink of this cut. I'm not a big fan of raw meat, but this didn't seem to bother me. 

Though, like I said, I hate dishes. Fortunately, there isn't a lot of clean up involved in meat grinding. 

I made patties as I haven't found a local source for casings yet. But when I do, watch out! 

The entire family enjoyed them and will probably become a regular breakfast meat. Can't wait to try them with some fresh pressed cider and straight from the tree apples. 

A digital copy of this book was provided to me from Storey Publishing for the purpose of review through NetGalley. I'm never required to give a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can. 


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