Posts Tagged ‘real food’

If you have been reading my personal blog, by now, you must realize my love for all things “Zucchini!” Even though I have only talked about the sweet treats I make with zucchini, I must admit I could could do without the sweet things all together and go all out for savory! By far, the easiest way for us to go through zucchini fast is to simply grill it.

Back when the zucchini were ready to harvest I was leaving town so I shredded the first few and stuck them in the freezer. Those bags still sit there waiting to be used. When I returned form my trip I started using the fresh zucchini and one of the first thing I made were these Zucchini “Things.” I have no idea what to call them, so “things” was the answer.

I used a recipe I have for Zucchini “Crab” Cakes (or zucchini fritters) and started playing around. What came out of that was Zucchini “Things.” I made a few batches of these and LOVED them every time. I am not big on measuring ingredients, so each batch tasted a bit different, but that was fine.

Here is the measurements of what I did (and I hope they turn out for you too!):

  • 2 1.2 cups of shredded/grated zucchini
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • chopped onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
  • 2 1/2 T cornmeal

I filled the mini muffin cups full.

Bake at 350F for 17 minutes (in mini muffin tins.) You would have to vary the time if you used the regular size muffin tins. I also imagine you could forgo the muffin tin completely and just plop some scoops on a cookie sheet, flatten them a bit if you want to and bake that way.

Right now, for me, it is all about saving time, but I DO know that you can fry these in the fry pan on your stove top and have good results too.  In your hands, you can form them in to small patties or just spoon some into fry pan and flatten with spatula. Depending on the length of time you fry them, you can get a crispy crust on them.

I posted about the Zucchini “Crab” Cakes yesterday on my personal log. Head over there to get the recipe.

Other Zucchini posts:

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Mr Chiots is a HUGE ice cream fan. We have a local dairy that makes ice cream from their own pastured cows. It’s not made from raw milk, but they lightly pasteurize their milk and it’s non-homogenized. When he wants some ice cream that’s our go-to spot. They make good ice cream to be sure, but it doesn’t even come close to homemade, especially when we make it with raw milk from the local farm and local pastured eggs. We love using the old hand crank ice cream maker that’s been in my family for years, it even made it to my Friday Favorites at Chiot’s Run.

My recipe is whipped up on the spot and includes, raw eggs yolks, vanilla beans, maple syrup, cream, whole milk, and a dash of salt. Sometimes I add cocoa, sometimes fruit juice. If you’re not into being quite that creative I’d highly recommend looking into Dave Lebovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments.  Last week we made vanilla cinnamon ice cream and topped it with homemade maple caramel and walnuts.  Mr Chiots was in heaven!  If you’ve never made homemade ice cream I’d highly recommend it.  Not only is it way better than anything you can get in a store or ice cream shop, it’s much cheaper!   I also love that there’s no wood pulp or weirdness in this ice cream, just REAL ingredients!

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Have you ever made ice cream at home?

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Indian Summer

Here in the Midwest we’ve had a late blast of summer weather bringing with it Indian summer. We should be thinking of a sweater to fight off the chill, and instead we’re spending days on the beach and keeping our windows wide open. It’s been absolutely gorgeous, in a bright yellow and warm orange kind of way.

What could be better than an autumnal ice cream as a cool treat?

I’m not talking pumpkins here. I mean a tasty and mildly spiced ice cream that hints at the cooler days that will be upon us soon. Something a bit mellow – like these warm days.

honey cinnamon frozen custard

Honey Cinnamon Frozen Custard

made in a 6 cup (liquid) capacity ice cream maker

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup cream*
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey mixed with 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  1. In a large saucepan, heat milk, cream, 1/3 cup honey, cinnamon, and the optional cardamom. Bring to 160° F. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a medium size bowl.
  2. Add small amounts of heated milk mixture to eggs, whisking the entire time. Once you’ve added about 1/3 of the mixture to the eggs you can add the egg mixture to the heated milk. Cook over medium for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.
  3. Put custard in the refrigerator to chill completely. Once this is as cold as it can get without freezing, it’s time to churn in the ice cream maker. In the last two minutes of churning, add the honey and cinnamon mixture so that it forms a swirl in the custard instead of combining. This last part may be easier to do after the custard has set up in the freezer for about an hour.
  4. Freeze for 2-3 hours before serving.

*I used my raw milk that I’d previously skimmed the cream from. If you’re using whole milk you can omit the cream for a lighter ice milk texture. Substitute 1 cup milk for the cream.

Honey Cinnamon Frozen Custard


Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing this Life where she blargs about almost everything from raising chickens to homeschooling to opinions about food.

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With the first week of October Unprocessed behind us, we wanted to let you know how we’re doing!


I (Xan) was already pretty unprocessed, but I confess that since last year I’ve slacked off quite a bit, mostly on the label-reading front.  So I made the discovery that you cannot buy unprocessed pasta at chain grocery stores. I’ll try the mercado, but I’m not holding out much hope, since pasta isn’t really a biggie in hispanic cuisine. But you never know. Suzy thinks I should make my own, but I’m not there yet. Will try the specialty shops.  The good news is our favorite tortilla chips, El Ranchero, unexpectedly have the following ingredients list: corn, lime, corn oil, salt. Here are the things I made this week, to keep me unprocessed:


I have a terrible thing to admit. We ate out last night. Living here in town I find it increasingly difficult to avoid dining out on occasion. We ate at a Mexican style restaurant and I chose a real chicken breast topped with chorizo and real cheese. Sure, I could’ve avoided the processed chips … and the margaritas…, but I feel I could’ve made a far worse decision. At least it wasn’t typical fast food.

For the most part, meals around our house are pretty unprocessed. We make our own butter, breads, and even cheeses. Meat is purchased at the local butcher instead of the meat department of the grocery store, and our milk is from a local farm – and it’s raw. But that doesn’t mean that all of my meals are gourmet works of art or some Foodie delight. Lunch the other day was simply some rolled out dough from the bread that was rising, baked into a pita and topped with ground peanut butter and homemade jam.

school day lunch

Experimenting is fundamental at our house too. We get bored easily eating the same things over and over. This week I came up with a recipe for Shepard’s Pie. It needs some refining, but it was sooo much better than the mashed potato and canned veggie casserole I grew up with.

Better Shepard's Pie

And as a special treat this week, Hubby and my daughter made dinner for our Sunday guests! It’s one of our favorite meals from our restaurant days. I adore that she loves food as much as we do. It makes it simple to teach her how to eat healthy and gets her thinking about where and who her food comes from.



Here at Chiot’s Run we were 98% unprocessed as usually. Last month (before the challenge started) her purchased a few of his favorite cookies at the health food store (Newman’s Own Organics Ginger-O’s) and he finished off that pack. At the beginning of the week I made a big batch of beef stew that we’ve been enjoying eating on, and a pot of chicken soup. When I’m busy, I like to make a few big pots of soup each week and we rotate between for quick meals.

This afternoon we went to the Algonquin Mill Festival. We enjoyed some pancakes made from flour they grind right there at the the steam powered mill (we took some of our homemade maple syrup in a jar so we didn’t have to eat the fake stuff) and Mr Chiots enjoyed some pumpkin pecan ice cream, it was also made by steam engine and contains only: milk, sugar, pumpkin, eggs, spices, nuts and vanilla. It’s really nice when you can find something to buy while out and about that’s not highly processed and full of chemicals & preservatives!


How is your October: Unprocessed coming along? Have you learned anything or experimented with new foods?

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Computers and modern transportation have made this world of ours seem a lot smaller. It makes luxuries that many of us might afford seem commonplace. I can order shea butter made from nuts handpicked by African locals, wool from the “Highlands of Peru”, and water bottled all the way in Fiji and have them shipped to me here in the midwest. But do I need them… especially when I can get a comparable item from somewhere closer to home?

It’s a mixed blessing. Modernization and change can be good thing, but I wonder, “At what cost?”. Not just the cost to my pocket book, but the cost to our surroundings – the local industries and businesses, job rates, fuel prices, and the impact on the environment.

Just like I have doubts about processed foods, I have some issues with purchasing food online. Some of these “must have” herbs, oils, seasonings, and out of season vegetables can hardly be better for the environment with all their fossil fuels and packing than all the pesticides and fertilizer a conventionally grown product may have. I have some concerns with purchasing food from places like Amazon, for example, simply because the items are organic, or they fall under the latest diet fad, or are the latest craze in grains. How can it be any better than picking up packaged processed organic convenience foods at your local grocery store?

olive oil

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that these goods are available to those that would otherwise have no access to local organic products or allergen-free foods. I love that my sister, with her gluten- and lactose-intolerances, can easily find alternatives for her diet. But for a majority of us it shouldn’t be an issue. One of my biggest fears is that globalization (in the sense of marketing and shipping) of the organic industry will hinder the local food movements. When we choose to order food and goods online, I feel like we’re cheating our neighboring farmers even the chance to decide if they want to go organic, or sell at the market or even direct to stores.

With all that said, I admit I’m no saint. I have my coffee and teas; I’ve ordered bags of flour and even Meyer lemons; nuts and avocados from the States and Mexican mangoes frequent my kitchen when they’re in season. I keep balsamic vinegar. And wine… I have not given up my wine (hic!). Let’s not even talk about Peppadews. It’s been said many times before, “Moderation is key”.  If you want to splurge on something, choose wisely and limit your purchases and usage. For example, I try to choose Californian olive oil instead of those imported from Italy, Argentina, and Tunisia. I also purchase in bulk any items that need to be shipped – like flour. But I do purchase a majority of my vegetables and fruits from local farmers – and I buy lots at a time to can, freeze, and store*. Doing so is an investment in future meal. Yes, it requires some time and very minimal equipment, but it sure is an improvement in value and taste. I also try to forage when I can, and I’m not shy about asking family and friends if I can pick extras from their gardens and trees. Those Peppadews I love so much? I limit the amount I purchase and keep them as a special treat: a luxury.

Canning SessionSet your own limits. What is acceptable to you? Would you be willing to spend a couple of Saturdays  at the end of summer to put up the products of a good harvest? Can you fit an hour a week into your plans to go to the farm stand or market instead of the grocery store? Is it really okay to purchase organic garlic from Argentina, when you can wait until fall and pick it up locally? Can you get by with eating foods grown strictly in your own country? Would you be willing to eat seasonally and regionally instead of buying out of season fruits and vegetables from California? What ingredients would you be willing to give up, grow yourself, or purchase locally instead of having them imported? Would you be willing to be an activist and get the ball rolling on a local farmers market?

I think it’s phenomenal that so many more small businesses are cropping up and offering organic goods where they weren’t previously available. I love that there are so many alternatives available for people that have food challenges, like allergies and intolerances. I also think it’s important to stay educated and keep questioning how we can make things better for our families, the environment, and our local businesses. Food quality is very important to me, and I frequently find myself researching what I can do to improve it while reducing my footprint. My time and pocket book is also important to me, and I always have to work on consolidating my projects and errands. So while I may purchase a few key items online, you won’t find me getting box-loads of organic meals delivered to my door. Instead you’ll find me bringing box-loads of organic veggies home from the market to put up for those long, cold winter days and searching for ways to advocate local resources.

Farmers Market

(*A note on purchasing and preparing foods in bulk: It’s amazing how much cabinet space is left when you get rid of all those factory processed and packaged foods. Cans and jars of goods stack easily and don’t have as much empty space thanks to settling. Freezer space is nice if you have it, I’m currently storing a lot in my parents’ deep freeze since ours is long gone. I keep 20 pounds worth of flour in air-tight storage bins and have kept long-storing items like winter squash under my bed.

It may be intimidating to spend the little extra cash up front, but the investment of a little money and time up front will save you money and time later down the road. Less grocery shopping, means more time and more money in your pocket. Start small and add more projects as you feel more comfortable and can afford to add more to your project list. Share projects with someone else to save money and time, find canning jars and storage containers at garage sales or look for end of season sales. Over time you will notice a difference in the amount of money you spend on food, but it may take a while depending on how much you actually prepare and store.)


– Jennifer is also at Unearthing this Life, is on Twitter, and has written for Rhythm of the Home.

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OK all you REAL foodies, this challenge is for you. It’s been 6 months since the REAL Food Challenge and this is the perfect way to get back on track if you haven’t been keeping up with REAL food.

Slow Food USA initiated the $5 Challenge. The goal is to cook healthy meal for less than what you would spend for a meal at a fast food restaurant. They emphasize that the food should fit the Slow Food ideal “food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.”

THE CHALLENGE: This September 17, you’re invited to take back the ‘value meal’ by getting together with family, friends and neighbors for a slow food meal that costs no more than $5 per person. Cook a meal with family and friends, have a potluck, or find a local event.

WHY: Because slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food. If you know how to cook, then teach others. If you want to learn, this is your chance. Together, we’re sending a message that too many people live in communities where it’s harder to buy fruit than Froot Loops. Everybody should be able to eat fresh, healthy food every day.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Sign up for the challenge! You can cook a meal with friends and family, find a local event, or host your own event.

You can join in here at Not Dabbling, or head on over to Chiot’s Run and join in over there. I’m giving away a collection of seeds from Botanical Interests to one lucky reader.

How are you doing continuing the REAL food Challenge?

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Back in Tennessee our property was covered with groundcherries (sometimes known as stone cherries, husk tomatoes, and sometimes Cape Gooseberries). Had I known how absolutely wonderful they tasted I would have taken full advantage of this free resource. I should have taken the time to identify the differences between the nightshade plants and the groundcherry instead of ripping out every lookalike for fear that my daughter would find the colorful fruit irresistible. After all, I could easily tell the difference between a tomatillo and Chinese lantern. They’re all part of the Physalis genus, and in the Solanaceae family which also gives us peppers and tomatoes. In my defense, our property was also covered with the smooth ground cherry – a known hallucinogenic (smooth groundcherry leaves are almost hairless and given the Latin name P. subglabrata).

When picking wild foods education is everything.

I said they were delicious, didn’t I? Yes, yes indeed. But it seems they’re a bit like cilantro. You either love ’em or you hate ’em. They have an evolving flavor. For me, they start of tasting like a pineapple, then mellow out a bit like a tomato with a distinctive flavor from its relative, the tomatillo. Hubby thinks they taste like bacon and pancakes, and finish like a tomato. The Kid despises them, but then again she is revolting against all fruits and vegetables at this time. If you can find them in your yard or in the wild, consider yourself lucky! I was fortunate to find them at the farmers market. I hope you get the chance to sample one this summer as they’re not only tasty, they’re rich in provitamin A – a healthy sweet and tart treat. If you get them, buy some up as they can last in cool storage for 3-6 months.

groundcherry salsa

Groundcherry Salsa

(Phenomenal on fish, chicken, or chips)

  • 1 cup groundcherries, sliced in half
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup (about three large) tomatillos, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, smushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (optional: green chilies, jalapenos, and/or cilantro)

Remove husks from ground cherries and tomatillos and wash them along with the tomatoes. Chop, dice and mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Ta Daaa! Couldn’t be much easier or healthy to add some flavor to a simple dish.


Chocolate covered Groundcherries

  • Melting chocolate such as bark
  • Groundcherries
  1. Pull husks of groundcherries up, but do not remove. Wash fruit and allow to dry. Try not to get husks wet.
  2. While they’re drying, melt chocolate in a double boiler over low heat and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Use husks as a handle and dip the cherry in the chocolate, then set on parchment to cool completely.
  4. If hard chocolates aren’t your thing, consider fondue!

Jennifer can be found at Unearthing this Life; her blarg about self-sustainability, gardening, cooking, and family.

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If I’m not working, you’ll usually find me either gardening, cooking or blogging. We talk often of our gardens and what we’re growing here and you’ve seen many images of the fruits of our labor. I thought this week we could show some of what we’ve been mixing up in our kitchens, or over the fire on some days. The REAL food challenge continues all year long for some of us. Here are a few things that I’ve been cooking up at Chiot’s Run. If I have posted a recipe for the food in the image you can click on the image to head on over to my post that includes the recipe for that dish.


I (Xan) did all my cooking last week for our Lammas party–we’ve been subsisting on fresh fruit and leftovers this week! I’m going to send you over to Mahlzeit to see what I’ve been cooking; what I’ve been doing in the kitchen mostly this week is figuring out garlic braids, and I think I nailed it. Only took me, um, years.

What have you been cooking up this summer?

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One meal that The Kid, Hubby, and I can agree upon is roasted chicken. It’s one of my favorite meals because it’s easy to prepare, the flavor is great, and I can make several meals out of one bird. The first meal we make is usually served hot out of the oven with carrots and potatoes. The second is a freebie, and the third is made of leftovers – plus there’s always broth to make from the bones, leftover meat, and skin.

Chicken Pie is our most recent favorite freebie meal. It can be made with any seasonal vegetables, and with dairy-free alternatives. You could also substitute beef, pork, or skip the meat altogether. I’m personally looking forward to mushroom season, and am thinking of a topless tomato and zucchini version for summertime. Right now we’re fortunate that peas, carrots, early potatoes and spring onions are in.


  • 1/2 roasted chicken (we roast with onion, carrot, rosemary, carrot, celery, salt, and pepper. Feel free to eat your veggies. You’ll make more for this recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped. Save leaves for seasoning.
  • 2 medium potatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary

Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add vegetables, salt & pepper, and thyme to pan. Tuck rosemary and parsley leaves to the side of a pan and do not disturb. If you have any remaining juices from baking your chicken feel free to add them for flavor. Cook vegetables until softened, but not done.

Add chicken, cream and milk and cook long enough to reheat chicken and flavor dairy.

Remove rosemary and parsley, then pour mixture into a large bowl. Once cool enough, add flour to bowl and mix in with hands. Set to the side and prepare dough.


  • 3  cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus some for dusting
  • 2 Tbsp Demerera sugar or about 1 Tbsp granulated cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup ice-cold water
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt.

Pour in 3/4 cup melted butter and mix with a spoon. Add 1 cup water and use hands to incorporate everything together loosely.

On a flat surface, sprinkle extra flour and pour your dough out to work. Mix dough by hand for at least 30 seconds making sure that the dough is smooth, but not overly wet. If it seems too wet add more flour.

Cut dough in half and roll out to fit in bottom of 8-9 inch pie pan. We use a round cake pan.

Add filling, roll out top crust, and crimp closed. Place on a lined cookie sheet to prevent dripping.

Cut several slits in top crust or use a pie bird, then brush remaining butter on crust, and bake for 1 hour. The interior should be good a bubbly.

When it’s done, allow the pie to rest for 15 minutes prior to serving – if you can wait that long.


You can also find Jennifer blarging along about life in rural Tennessee over at Unearthing This Life.

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It used to be all that I’d preserve was tomatoes. After a few years of that I started freezing apples and peaches that I’d purchased by the bushel. When we moved to our current property we were loaded with wild blackberries, so preserves and jams obviously had to go on the list.

Now, after almost 10 years of canning, freezing, and putting by for the winter, we have a pretty good stash of goodies that help us get through until it’s time to start harvesting wild and gardened foods again. This year we put up tomatoes, chow chow, several types of fruit preserves, honey & pecans, chutney, pear and lemon preserves. We froze roasted red peppers, squash, and pumpkins, as well as a half of a pig we processed ourselves. We have onions, potatoes, winter squash, and sugar pumpkins in dry storage, and we recently joined a meat CSA. We also have dried herbs for seasonings and teas – things like sumac berries, lemon balm, and mints. And finally, I managed to save some of those wines that I brewed (hic). 

I almost feel like we’ll be cheating for this year’s Real Food Challenge (Don’t forget to sign up if you’ll be joining us)!

So, of those of you that will be playing along this next month – what will you be falling back on that you “put by” this past year? Do you mainly can, freeze, use a dry storage system like a cellar? Or will you have to start from scratch and pick up your supplies from stores and growers?

You can also find Jennifer blarging away at Unearthing This Life. There she rambles on about chickens, organic food, gardening, and living in rural Tennessee.

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