"The researches of so many eminent scientific men have thrown so much darkness upon the subject that if they continue their researches we shall soon know nothing."

- Artemus Ward

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lazy Moussaka

I call this "lazy" because I used pre-made tomato sauce from Trader Joe's in the recipe. I don't normally do this sort of thing as I prefer being a "from scratch" cook, as I hate most prepared foods and their long lists of icky ingredients I don't want in my body. But I was at Trader Joe's the other day, and I know they are often better than most about things like that, so I picked up a bottle of sauce and looked at the ingredient list. All real foods, and nothing I wouldn't eat or use myself anyway (as long as I was having tomato), so I popped it into my grocery cart, and today I found a use for it in my nightshade moussaka dish.

But if you are a *really* lazy cook you might still think this recipe is too much work. :-)

Lazy Moussaka

- 1 lb. ground beef (mine was grass-fed)
- 1 largish leek (onion is fine but I had a leek)
- 1 green pepper
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 eggplant
- 3 medium-sized potatoes
- 1/2 a jar of Trader Joe's Three Cheese Pomodoro Pasta Sauce*
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- plenty of cheese of your choice, shredded or thinly sliced

Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C)
Peel and then thinly slice the eggplant, and lay slices on a paper-towel lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, and set aside. This will drain some of the watery juices from the eggplant, and some feel it helps get rid of the bitter taste some people experience. (note if you have more eggplants you are welcome to use 2-3 of them and slice a little thicker. I just happened to have only one, so this recipe is how I made it).

Then peel the potatoes, and slice them thinly as if for potato chips. Place in a pot of water, and bring to a boil, cooking until you can pierce them with a fork pretty easily. Then drain.

While they are boiling slice the tomatoes thinkly into slices. Set aside. Then chop and dice the green peppers and the leek, including as much of the leek's green top as you wish. Ditto if you are using scallions. Obviously not an issue if using a plain onion.

Then saute the leek and pepper in a large skillet with your choice of cooking fat. I used bacon grease. When they have softened and slightly browned transfer them to a large bowl.

By now the eggplant should have drained, so take the layers and layer them on a greased baking sheet. I used coconut oil for the grease. Place in oven to bake.

Put the chopped beef into the skillet and saute until the beef is browned. Then add the cooked beef to the pepper and leek in the large bowl. Pour in a half jar of the Trader Joe's Three Cheese Sauce, add the tsp of cinnamon, and blend well.

Check the eggplant. If sliced thinly enough they should be easily pierced with a fork at this point, and slightly browned. You can flip them if you want and let them lightly brown on the other side too.

Then get out a 9x13 casserole dish, and grease it. I use coconut oil for the grease, but olive oil or butter would be fine too.

Remove eggplant from oven. Then line the bottom of the casserole dish with half the eggplant. On top of that place a layer of half the potato. Then top with a layer of half the tomatoes. Spoon half the meat mixture on top of that and try to spread evenly. Sprinkle or layer half your cheese over the meat. Then repeat the eggplant/potato/tomato/meat sauce/cheese layers with your remaining ingredients.

Place in over and bake for about 20-30 minutes, until heated through, and the top layer of cheese is a bit browned and bubbly. Enjoy and eat!

* Trader Joe's Three Cheese Sauce Ingredient list:
- imported Italian plum tomatoes, Romano, Parmesan and Asiago cheese (milk, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes), olive oil, onion, salt,, crushed garlic, oregano.

NOTE: I have been having one serving of this every day for three days now, but my knee has not been bothering me. I guess the jury is still mixed on nightshades.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nightshades Redux

A few months ago I posted about nightshades. I had decided to give them up to see if they alleviated the terrible arthritic pain I had in my knees. Well as often happens you start out with good intentions, and you start having a slice of tomato here, a few home fries there ....

The good thing about the experiment is that I had *no* knee pain the entire time. And over the years my knees have given me so much trouble to the point where sometimes I feel I can hardly walk. So was it the nightshade ban? Or were my knees just going through a period of calm? After all, my ban was not total. It was more a low nightshade period rather than a no nightshade period.

I still don't know. But my son and daughter-in-law joined a CSA earlier this year before my son was offered the job that took them down to Jacksonville, Florida. But they had already paid for and committed to the season. So they told me and my daughter-in-law's parents that we could use the remainder of the season, and pick up the weekly vegetables.

My daughter-in-law's parents had picked them up the last four weeks while I was up in Canada. But this past Tuesday I made my first pickup. What did my order include?

- 4 beets
- 1 bunch of leeks
- 4 green peppers
- 1 melon of choice (there were multiple types)
- 1 watermelon
- 2 lbs. of potatoes
- 5 lbs. of tomatoes
- 2 heirloom tomatoes
- 1 carton of cherry tomatoes
- 1 lb. rattlesnake beans
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 eggplant

So what do I see on that list? Tomatoes, peppers, more tomatoes, eggplant, potato, more tomatoes - all *nightshades*. My entire order seemed to be the foods I had been trying to eliminate or at least limit, and now I had a week to use these up before my next order arrived.

So I was having leek and green pepper omelets with sides of home fries, sliced tomatoes with all my meat and cheese, and omelets as well. I admit it all tasted good.

But also .... this week BOTH MY KNEES have been killing me. I have not had this sort of knee pain in months. The pain was enough to keep me awake for some hours one night this week. And even when awake I've been hobbling around and popping aspirin.

Is it the weather? The season? Or is it the nightshade overload of the past week? I don't know. But I'm trying one thing. I've taken all the veggies shown in the photo I took above, and I am cooking them up to make a big casserole of moussaka. The moussaka is in the oven even as I type. This will be a real nightshade overload. If I wind up with more knee pain then maybe I will go back into avoidance mode.

But I still have a bunch of tomatoes left (as well as all four beets, 1 remaining leek, and lots of rattlesnake beans), and tomorrow a new CSA delivery arrives. If it is also heavy on the nightshades I may have to find new homes for them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Farm meals

Yes I ate well when I was up at the farm. I ate hearty, that's for sure, and yet I didn't gain any weight while I was up there. And yet I routinely had things like lobster, lobster stew, cheese omelets, and all sorts of other good things to eat - including farm-fresh blueberries and raspberries. So here is a sampling of some of my meals up at the farm!





Monday, August 16, 2010

Lobster Stew

We love to have lobster when we are up in Canada on vacation. But we especially LOVE to get an extra lobster and make lobster stew the next day. In fact my son won't even eat a plain boiled or steamed lobster anymore. But he loves the lobster stew!

So I made it a few times up in Canada, twice for myself, son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. And once to invite a neighbor to lunch. This is NOT a recipe for someone who is a fat-phobe, LOL.

Lobster Stew

meat from one lobster, cut into small bite-sized chunks (don't forget the meat from inside the body, lots of good stuff there too)
1 pound bacon
1 medium to large onion, diced
1/2 pound mushrooms, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp. sea salt
Optional: 2-4 potatoes (depending on size), peeled and cubed
1 quart or 1 liter heavy cream

If potatoes are desired peel them and cut into small bite-sized cubes. Boil until soft enough for a fork to pierce them (about potato salad consistency) and then drain and set aside.

In a large high-sided skillet cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from the skillet to drain and cool, and when it is cool crumble into bite-sized pieces.

Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic to the bacon grease in the skillet, and saute until all have browned. If potatoes are being used add the potatoes at this point and the sea salt, and saute for a few more minutes.

Once potatoes have lightly browned pour in the cream. Stir all ingredients well, and continue to cook over low heat, stirring to prevent burning, until the cream has slightly reduced and thickened.

Just before serving stir in the bacon and the lobster meat - and remove from heat, stirring or another minute or two. You want the meat to be heated through, but not overly cooked and toughened. Makes about 4-6 servings and is very hearty.

To lessen carb impact for those you need it you could substitute cooked cauliflower or turnip chunks for the potatoes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Raspberry flax muffins

I'm finally back after nearly a month up in Atlantic Canada, enjoying a wonderful respite from the hot weather here at home - and getting my fill of lobster and fresh wild blueberries, and Cole's cheddar cheese. All definite annual treats.

We also got lots of fresh raspberries from our neighbors' garden, and I tried to think of various ways to use them. It's hard to put down recipes though as I so rarely measure things when I cook, LOL. But I did make these muffins and they were pretty darn tasty, so I'm doing my best to recreate:

Chocolate Coconut Raspberry Flax Muffins

1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup melted shortening (I used a mixture of butter and coconut oil)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
water or cream as needed
1/2 to 1 cup fresh raspberries

Blend all ingredients through the eggs together. If mixture is very thick (and it probably will be) slowly add some water or cream and blend until you get a thinner consistency. Not as thin as a pancake batter or a commercial cake-mix batter, but definitely thinner than a cookie dough batter.

When consistency seems right gently fold in the raspberries. Add a little of some sweetener of choice if desired. Then spoon into paper-lined muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake at 350F (180C) until the tops spring back to the touch, maybe 20 minutes. I think this made about a dozen for me.

They are really a yummy treat, and especially good when served warm with some fresh farm butter. And getting a rich burst of fresh raspberry in your bite is a real treat. :-)