There's No Pork Like Home....

Juicy BBQ Pork When we’re in the mood for North Carolina pulled pork – the only meat recognized as true “barbecue” in that state – nothing stands in the way of my husband including alternating rain, sleet and snow, all of which were bouncing off his unprotected head as he rolled the Traeger wood pellet grill from the garage into the driveway, announcing we were “good to go”.

Firing up the grill, giving it a chance for a good preheat, gave him time to throw together the mop sauce and also let the pork shoulder – rubbed down the day before with his special spice blend and refrigerated over night – come up to room temperature. Some interesting research shows that spice blends, marinades and mop sauces play a protective role, reducing mutagenic compounds –

Blueberry Ricotta Buttermilk Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancake Small I did it again this morning, creating an amazing breakfast – rich, buttermilk and ricotta pancakes, topped with fresh butter and blueberry sauce, paired with fragrant, thick-cut bacon! Before I get too carried way in my enthusiasm, I want to give all the credit for this morning’s wonderful meal, to my local farmers – the diligent, hard-working people who raise our food.

German Style Oven Pancake

German Oven Pancake

Duck fat. There are not enough glowing words to describe my love and adoration for duck fat. It turned my two German-style Oven Pancakes into creations worthy of a photo shoot, much to the moaning of the hungry masses hovering near the stove, wanting to whisk it away to the breakfast table.

Rising several inches above the sides of the pan, the pancake’s bottom was nearly paper-thin, but yet strong enough to not tear when it easily slid out of the pan, thanks to duck fat. They released so easily from the glass pie pans, barely a speck of crust remained, unlike other times when I’ve used butter which tends to burn and hold onto crusts more easily.

Burmese Tofu

Unlike my husband, I was not a fan of tofu. Determined to show me that “tofu”, translated, meant “delicious”, he spent 10 long, hungry hours, meticulously constructing, as only an engineer can, an extravagant molded strata creation – tofu & red peppers, tofu & spinach, tofu & walnut, tofu & cilantro – layered 8-inches high in a well-oiled angel-food cake pan. Finally, at 10pm, candles lit, wine poured, grace and thanks given, we took our first bite. “Do you think Tasty Pizza is still open and would deliver?”, he asked.

That was years ago. Not long enough, apparently, for me to forget my one and only tofu experience because when my husband suggested ordering a Burmese-tofu salad this weekend at Yoma, a favorite Burmese restaurant, just the thought of eating “tofu” made my tongue feel covered in chalkdust and grit. The waiter assured my husband, “Not, Japanese tofu. Burmese good. We make here. You like.”

Dosa (Fermented Rice & Lentil Bread)

Dosa Dosa flatbread is very thin, crispy and savory sourdough bread, a favorite staple eaten with South India cuisine, like my favorite Lamb & Spinach. Dosa is similar in taste and texture to Ethiopian injerra bread, with a slight “tang“flavor, and a “lacy” texture, a result of fermentation, for 18-24 hours. During fermentation, the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) do what the good Lord created it to do – break down the sugars, starches and fats, making them more easily digestible, while turning the bread into a powerful probiotic which aids in the digestion of other foods. In addition, LAB create antimicrobial compounds providing a broad spectrum of inhibition against pathogens and food spoilage microorganisms. Modern food processing offers NOTHING even remotely close, when it comes to the power of fermentation to create and protect the living vitality and life-giving properties of real food.

Dili Ka Saag Gosht (Lamb & Spinach)

Spinach & Dosa Usually, after making a recipe a few times, I’ll experiment with different seasonings or swapping one protein for another. But not this recipe! I found it over 20 years ago – a Madhur Jaffrey creation – and have been making it the same way every single time to the joy of my 13-year-old who requests it quite often, telling me she “craves” it. I don’t recall having a “favorite” food when I was her age, and it brings me joy knowing I’m also creating good memories for her.

Jaffrey has a gift for writing recipes that are simple, straight-forward, but loaded with a complex depth of flavors. The cube-sized bites of lamb are evenly balanced with just the right amount of richly-spiced yogurt sauce along with spinach. We’ve enjoyed East Indian restaurants across the United States, Europe and Australia, but have not encountered any other Dili Ka Saag Gosht as good as this recipe.

Another benefit of Jaffrey’s recipes is they fit in well within the guidelines of Weston A. Price and its companion cookbook, Nourishing Traditions which values nutrient dense foods, with liberal use of healthy fats, and low ‘n slow styles of cooking.

Oatmeal Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Neh 8:10

Every St. Patrick’s Day dinner is a mirror image of the preceding year – New England Boiled Dinner with Corned Beef & Cabbage, along with freshly-baked Oatmeal Irish Soda Bread. The conversation is pretty much a mirror image of the year before, too, now that I think about it. The first question asked of me by my family, their mouths still full from their first bite of bread is usually, “I’d forgotten how good this is! Why don’t we have this bread all the time?”

Healthy Gray Corned Beef

Gray Corned Beef 200 Touring Ireland, introducing myself, “Hello, I’m Sharon Kathleen”, the responses were often, “Odd, really, ahmmm, you don’t look even a wee bit Irish….”. True, and that’s because there’s not a single drop of Irish blood in me. My mother, raised in a Twin Cities German-Irish immigrant neighborhood, borrowed my names from the Irish culture, equating them with being “good, strong American names”.

She also borrowed the Irish tradition of serving New England Boiled Dinner every St. Patrick’s Day, but in reality, the potato, cabbage and corned beef combination has nothing historically to do with Ireland.

My favorite part was always the corned beef, which isn’t actually corned, but is instead brined in a salt water solution. The addition of saltpeter, potassium nitrate, gives corned beef its rosy-color.

Soul-Warming French Onion Soup

French onion Soup After all the slurping, sighing, and, yes, even bowl-licking through tonight’s French Onion Soup, my husband put down his spoon (licked that clean, too), sat back in contentment and said, “Thank you, honey. That was soul-warming”.

He’s been generous with compliments these past 21-years, but that was his first “soul warming” comment. I figured, before I forgot how I’d created the soup, I’d better write it down ASAP. My blog is quickly becoming my recipe box, my laptop residing on a little corner of my center island.

Do You Know The Muffin Man

Muffin Man “Muffin…a term connected with moufflet, an old French word applied to bread, meaning soft….The word muffin first appeared in print in the early 18th century, and recipes began to be published in the middle of the 18th century. There has always been some confusion between muffins, crumpets, (aka, pikelets), both in recipes and in name. Muffin’ usually meant a breadlike product (sometimes simply made from whatever bread dough was available), as opposed to the more pancake-like crumpets…Muffins were most popular during the 19th century, when muffin men traversed the town streets at teatime, ringing their bells. In the 1840s the muffin-man’s bell was prohibited by Act of Parliament because many people objected to it, but the prohibition was ineffective…” Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999(p. 517)