It’s probably been a good 15-20 years since the last time I ate red or white meat (with the exception of a slice of bacon here and there), so I have to admit the idea of eating meat has been a bit weird. Regardless, I have come to believe that I need to include more protein in my diet, and the sound of Pemmican — a Native American “energy bar” of sorts — appealed to me.

Ingredients

Ground beef, buffalo or turkey (grass fed)
Berries (cranberries, blueberries, cherries etc)
Coconut oil
Honey (optional)

Preparation

1. Form the raw ground meat into meatballs, flatten as thin as possible and dehydrate at 115F degrees till bone dry.
2. Puree berries and spread out to a thin layer. Dehydrate till dry.
3. Using a blender or food processor, process dried meat and berries till they form a powder.
4. In a bowl, add melted coconut oil and honey till moist.
5. Transfer to muffin tins. Pack down well.
6. Refrigerate.

 

This post is part of GAPS Friendly Friday over at The Liberated Kitchen.

Two weeks ago I organized a bulk buy of Early Girl and Roma no spray tomatoes from a local farmer in Oregon City. I also got some additional Roma tomatoes, including an heirloom variety called Black Plum, from another organic local farm on Sauvie Island. All in all, I think I must have bought over 3 TONS of tomatoes for 45 or so families.

I canned about 6 or 7 lugs (120-140 lbs) of tomatoes so far, which yielded 6 qts frozen and 36 qts canned tomato sauce. I am hoping we won’t need to buy any commercial sauce at all this winter.

My method is probably cheating, but it works for me.

1. First, I wash all the tomatoes. I just dump a case at a time into the sink, like this. (These are the Black Plum heirloom Romas. I used them last year too, and they are great!)

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2. Then I, or in this case my little helper, simply purees the whole tomatoes (skin, seeds and all) in batches.

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3. Dump the puree into a big wide pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer down to about half the original volume (appx 3 hrs).

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4. Hot water bath process or freeze. Last year, I froze the resulting sauce, but this year I canned most of the sauce. I added 2 T lemon juice to every quart of sauce and hot water bath processed the cans for 40 mins. Easy!

Pickles…

Azure Standard has the best price in town, Dan loves pickles, and I wasn’t sure how much longer  pickling cukes will be available, so I bought 20 lbs of pickling cucumbers from them, kinda on a whim. They got delivered yesterday, so now I have to figure out a time to prep and can them, probably tomorrow morning sometime…

Last year, I hosted a canning party and we made bread and butter pickles, which was a bit complicated. This year, I am going to simplify and just make easy dill spears. I found this yummy sounding recipe online.

Ingredients

  • 8 pounds 3 to 4 inch long pickling cucumbers
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 12 cups water
  • 2/3 cup pickling salt
  • 16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 8 sprigs fresh dill weed
  • 8 heads fresh dill weed

Directions

  • Wash cucumbers, and place in the sink ( I use the bathtub!) with cold water and lots of ice cubes. Soak in ice water for at least 2 hours but no more than 8 hours. Refresh ice as required. Sterilize 8 (1 quart ) canning jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the brine to a rapid boil.
  • In each jar, place 2 half-cloves of garlic, one head of dill, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar (about 1 pound). Then add 2 more garlic halves, and 1 sprig of dill. Fill jars with hot brine. Seal jars, making sure you have cleaned the jar’s rims of any residue.
  • Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 15 minutes.
  • Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place.
  • Since Dan is Mr. Impatient, I am also going to make these refrigerator dill pickles that only take a few days to cure.

    Ingredients

    • 6 cups water
    • 2 cups vinegar
    • 1/2 cup canning salt
    • 1/2 tsp. alum (optional)Bring ingredients for the pickling solution to a boil.
    • enough fresh pickling cucumbers to fill a 1 gallon jar
    • 1 large bunch fresh dill weed (about 1/4 lb) (I used dried dill weed)
    • 1 large onion
    • 2 whole cloves (I used a couple tbsp pickling spice)
    • 2 tsp. sliced garlic (I used a bunch of halved garlic cloves)


    Directions

    Wash about 4-5 lbs. freshly picked cucumbers. Layer whole, unpeeled cucumbers, onion, cloves and garlic and dill. Pour vinegar solution over the top, let set on counter for 3 or 4 hours.

    Refrigerate, ready to eat in 2 to 4 days.

    Not quite sure what suddenly drew me to look into the Paleo Diet, but now that I have, I am really fascinated by it! I haven’t gotten it yet, but I want to read The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat by Dr. Loren Cordain, the leading researcher on the Paleo Diet. Funny how when you become interested in something, you start noticing it everywhere. I went to a talk by Dr. Daniel Chong and turns out, he too is a big proponent of this type of eating.

    In a nutshell, here is my understanding of why the Paleo Diet makes sense:
    – our biology hasn’t “caught up” with our technology (ie we aren’t adapted yet to eat an agricultural type diet)
    – grains have a very high glycemic load
    – grains are not nutritionally dense (ie for the amount of calories you consume, you do not get a lot of nutrients)
    – our biology suggests we eat a more carnivorous diet (for example, comparing the guts of apes and man and their diets, you see that vegetarian apes have much larger stomachs and colons, and smaller small intestines than humans)

    There are of course counter arguments to all of this, but to me it makes a lot of sense. With the exception of the “ban” on grains and legumes, I also think it follows along the lines of Sally Fallon/Nourishing Traditions (despite her scathing review of the book, which Dr. Cordain rebuts here– it’s pretty amusing to read).

    What makes sense to me right now is to follow NT *if* you are going to use grains in your diet– ie soak, sprout etc to make the grains more digestible. Sally Fallon thinks grains are hard to digest too– that’s not a secret. Her book is all about how these foods have been prepared traditionally to get more nutrients out of them and to make them easier to digest. It makes sense if you want/have to eat a lot of grains. Truth be told, the majority of the world depends on grains and cereals to survive. Grains are cheap, they store well, and they are needed to feed this over populated planet. Dr. Cordain agrees with this, but for most of us, definitely privileged and wealthier Westerners, grains are not a necessity. In general, we can eat differently. We can eat fresh produce, lean meat, seafood, nuts, berries etc…

    So basically I am really enjoying learning about this idea, and although I am not a big meat eater, it somehow “feels” right to me. It actually feels more “natural” than NT, because I have always preferred to eat fresh produce, berries, nuts, seafood etc and shunned breads/rice/hot cereals/porridges. First up on my to do list is Pemmican and Salmon Jerky.

    Salmon Jerky

    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 8 hours
    Ingredients

    1/2 cup salt (NOT iodized)
    1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
    1/8 cup soy sauce
    1/2 gallon water
    Salmon fillets, skin removed
    Cayenne pepper, optional

    Preparation
    Place salt, brown sugar, soy sauce, and water into a pot. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

    Slice salmon lengthwise (not across the width) into strips 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Place the salmon strips in the cooled brine and refrigerate for 8 to 10 hours to marinate.

    Drain the brine. Rinse the salmon with clean water and let drain. Pat dry with paper towels.

    Spray dehydrator racks with vegetable oil. Place salmon strips on racks, not touching so air can circulate. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper to taste. Dry to desired doneness according to dehydrator manufacturer’s recommendations.

    The salmon jerky may also be dried in the oven on its lowest setting or in a smoker. The drying time could take 8 hours or more, depending on the method and how dry you like the jerky.

    Store salmon jerky in an airtight container or ziptop bag.

    Tomatoes galore…

    Munchkie, my mom and I have been spending the last 3 or so days pureeing tomatoes and boiling them down into a yummy sauce.

    Here is an heirloom variety called Pink Accordion that I bought from Bella Organic Farm.

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    I also got a lug of Romas and another lug of a small green and red heirloom variety. On top of all of that, our CSA share has also been including lots of tomatoes, so all in all, I think I have canned 100 lbs of tomatoes. That should last us all winter, I hope, because I do not want to buy any more BPA lined cans of tomatoes.

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    I tried to hold off on picking them, so I could share the joy of ripe figs right off the tree with my mom who loves figs and is coming to visit soon, but alas, the figs had their own schedule and ripened already. I picked a big bowl today and made a 6 pint batch of low sugar jam that I am not sure will set right even though I did add pectin. We shall see, I guess.

    I also made 3 pints of walnut pesto since our CSA gave us a pound and a half of delicious smelling basil. That went in the freezer for later use along with the previous pint I had made.

    Tomorrow is my turn to host dinner club. We will be having raw(ish) tacos inspired by a recipe for “Solar Tacos” that came from Alexandra Demetro, a wonderful ND and midwife. I made the taco “meat” out of sunflower seeds and cashews from Azure Standard mixed together with some home made salsa using local, organic yellow tomatoes from Organically Grown Company, onions from our CSA and Anaheim peppers grown by yours truly in our very own backyard. I also made extra salsa, and have a big bowl of pinto beans soaking on the counter for making refried beans tomorrow. I will shred some raw Wisconsin cheese, make some guacamole, cut up some lettuce, and call it a meal. Easy and almost no cooking required!

    Summer is wonderful with so many local options. I am waiting for tomatoes to be in full season so I can make a bunch of pasta sauces or at least just can a whole bunch of tomatoes. I really don’t want to buy more canned tomatoes after learning about the ridiculously high levels of BPA in the lining of the cans… Peaches are also in season, and I should probably freeze a bunch for use later in smoothies, peach cobbler and other yummy goodness.

    I know eating locally and in season is important for the environment, the economy, and for health reasons, but I am wondering about putting up food for the winter… I am concerned about cost, but mainly about the destruction of enzymes and vitamins during the canning process. Does anyone know what the nutritional value is of canned foods compared to frozen or fresh? And also, adding all that sugar to the fruit and berries still has me feeling ill at ease– all that sugar just can’t be healthy. So is it better to freeze or can? From a nutrition stand point, is it more economical to buy locally when food is cheap and in season, and preserve it for later use? Or is it better to buy fresh food year round, but at a greater expense and from a reasonably farther location? What would you do? I am obviously confused…

    I guess it’s pickling season! I got 3 cases (66 lbs) of pickling cucumbers from OGC yesterday, and today I had 6 other mama friends over for my first ever pickling party– in fact, it was my 1st ever time pickling! We made 33 quart sized and 40 pint sized jars, ie 13.25 gallons (!!!) of pickles. I really hope they turn out yummy cause we sure poured a lot of effort and love into these home made pickles.

    I have no idea if we saved any money. Let’s see if the old cranium can still do some math….

    Here is the breakdown of what we used:
    66 lbs organic pickling cucumbers $102
    5 lbs sugar $4.95
    2 quarts honey $15
    2 gallons apple cider vinegar $17.78
    2 gallons white distilled vinegar $4.50 appx
    case of pint jars $8.15 x 3.33 = $27.17
    case of quart jars $9.25 x 2.75 = $25.44
    spices hot $5.90
    spices mild $5.50
    spices organic $7.15
    sea salt $5.00 appx
    5 bags of ice $7.80
    Total $228.19 or $0.13 per ounce

    Compared to the Woodstock Organic Sweet Bread & Butter Pickles selling for $0.19 per ounce (on sale right now) at our local grocery store, we saved $0.06 per ounce or a total of $101.76. Not bad… until you remember we put in a full 8 hour day. Divide that by 7 mamas and you get $14.54. Which equals a pay of $1.82 per hour. Wow. Ouch.

    It was fun though!

    This is what we did. I kinda used the Bread and Butter Zukes recipe I posted previously, but modified it a bit as we ran out of apple cider vinegar and sugar. Let’s call them Cucumber Sandwich Pickles.

    Ingredients

    2 pounds organic pickling cucumbers, cut into 1/4 inch slices and spears
    1/4 cup sea salt
    1 cup apple cider vinegar (I didn’t have enough, so we used some white vinegar too)
    1/2 cup raw sugar (ran out, so we used raw honey too)
    2 tbsp pickling spice blend (we used Frontier‘s hot & spicy, mild & sweet, and organic blends)

    Preparation

    1. Put slices and spears in a big bowl, toss with sea salt; add ice cubes and let stand 2 to 3 hours.
    2. Combine vinegar, sugar, and spices; bring to a boil.
    3. Add drained cucumbers; simmer about 6-7 minutes.
    4. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
    Yield: about 2 quarts

    And here is the impressive (well, I think so at least) result, on top of our kitchen cabinets. Spicy on the right, sweet on the left.

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    And while the mamas were working, the wee ones were out back wrangling chickens.

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    Zucchini is in season locally, and we are drowning in it! Here’s a couple recipes I am going to try. I have never really pickled before, so this should be interesting…

    Bread and Butter Zukes

    2 pounds of small zucchini, sliced
    1/2 pound small pearl onions
    1/4 cup pickling salt
    ice cubes
    1 cup cider vinegar
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
    2 teaspoons celery seed
    1 teaspoon turmeric seed, slightly crushed

    In a small bowl, toss zucchini and onion with salt. Cover with ice cubes. Let stand for two hours, then drain.

    In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and spices and bring to a boil. Add the zucchini and onions, reduce heat, and simmer 6-7 minutes. Pack the vegetables loosely into canning jars. Pour the liquid over the vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top. Cover jars and process for ten minutes in a boiling water bath. Place the cooled jars in a dark cupboard for about a month before opening. Makes about 2 quarts.

    Zucchini Hash Browns

    2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (I used both sunburst squash and zucchini)
    1 egg, beaten
    2 tablespoons butter, melted
    1 cup bread crumbs
    1/4 cup minced onion
    1/4 teaspoon garlic
    1/4 teaspoon oregano
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup olive oil for frying

    Preparation

    1. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, egg, and butter. Stir in seasoned crumbs, minced onion, and seasonings. Mix well.
    2. Shape mixture into patties. Dredge in flour.
    3. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until hot.
    4. Fry patties in oil until golden brown on both sides.

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    Yes, that is embarrassing photo evidence of the nasty ass Krusteaz bread crumbs I used. Please forgive me (Dan picked them out, I swear). I choose to believe the organic, local zucchini and fresh eggs from our own backyard flock make up for them. Notice how HUGE that one egg is? It was literally the size on a duck egg, and had 2 yolks. No wonder our hennies cackle so loud every time they lay an egg– some of these things are monstrous!

    Today we drove out to Thompson Farm in Damascus to do some raspberry u-picking. We ended up just picking 3 pints, and bought another 12 pints already picked raspberries. They are delicious and I have been wanting to learn how to can, so today is the day! I am going to make some jam.

    I bought a home canning kit, accessories, and mason jars at Fred Meyer’s, I consulted the tutorial at Fresh Preserving, and I found a nice sounding recipe here although it does not call for any processing, so I looked up another recipe here and combined the two sets of instructions (which in and of itself breaks the 1st rule of canning, which is to always use tried and true recipes, although this site validates what I decided to do, I think).

    I like it because 1) it has a ratio of fruit to sugar that favors the fruit, and 2) because it doesn’t call for pectin, which I didn’t even know I was supposed to buy.

    Anyway, here is the recipe. I will report back later on how it turned out.

    Ingredients

    6 cups ripe raspberries
    3 cups sugar
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1 tsp orange peel

    Preparation

    Cook together in a large, heavy pan over medium high heat for 35-40 minutes. When jam is ready (it reaches 220° and sheets off the side of the spoon) add 1/4 c. lemon juice and cook a few more minutes. The jam will rethicken. Add 1 T. grated orange peel. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. LADLE hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
    The recipe says you can leave the lemon juice and orange peel out for pure berry flavor, but I think I will add lemon juice since I happen to have a lot on hand and leave out the orange peel since I have none.

    Wish me luck!

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    Unfortunately, I learned about bisphenol A in the lining on food cans only after I had already stocked up on canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Then I somehow forgot about it, and went and stocked up on cans of tuna… I’m trying to take comfort in the fact that we haven’t bought canned beans in a long time (not because of the BPA issue, but just because I think the process of canning destroys so many nutrients)…

    Anyway, this article is definitely motivation for me to buy a bunch of mason jars so I can make sauces and can a bunch of tomatoes to last all year. I just can’t believe the crap that is allowed into the food we are supposed to feed our families! It’s so upsetting to constantly find yet another thing to worry about.

    Here is another great site that lists responses from different companies.