Monday, December 28, 2009

Wheat Flour

Do any of you out there grind your own wheat? I'm contemplating this, but it's definitely an investment (to get a good mill), and I want to be absolutely sure it's something I want to do before purchasing.

If you do, what machine do you use? Also, where do you buy your wheat in bulk? And, last question - what differences do you notice in baking?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Changing the Way We Eat

Over the past year and a half or so, we've really been trying to eat healthier foods - less of the processed/pre-packaged stuff, more healthy vegetables/fruits/grains, and more local foods. We've been part of a fantastic CSA for the last 2 summers, and benefitted from some amazing produce. We had a small garden this past year, and plan to have a much larger one this coming spring.

I've heard a lot about eating locally, and the benefits for both myself and the community certainly outweigh any inconveniences. Our progress here has been gradual, but once the new year hits, I plan to go full steam ahead with it. Looking in my pantry and fridge, I've frequently sacrified quality for quantity or convenience, but at what cost? I would describe my health as fair-good - not phenomenal, but not awful. What can I do to improve my own health outcomes, as well as that of my family? More importantly, how do I develop a sense of healthy eating in my child, so that he craves fruits and vegetables, and not cookies or soft drinks?

Yesterday I received the book The Jungle Effect by Dr. Daphne Miller. 30 hours later, I've read it cover to cover, and it appears to be life-altering. Inspired by patients with chronic diseases, Dr. Miller traveled the world to visit disease cold spots - places where there were incredibly low incidences of the diseases we face in our modern world - heart disease, diabetes, various cancers, colon issues, etc... She found interesting things in the diets of all of these cultures, and shares them in this book. She shares recipes and tips for finding good quality products.

The best part? None of this sounds terrible. None of it sounds boring. In fact, the types of food are exciting and full of flavor and nutrients. I can't wait to start trying the recipes, and then working with the knowledge from this book to find other native recipes and to create our own recipes using these principles and ingredients. She also focuses on the importance of buying local products whenever possible and really reading those product labels to ensure what you're buying isn't full of chemicals.

All that to say - if you're interested in eating locally and eating quality food, this book is a fantastic jumping-off point. Next up - something by Michael Pollan, although I haven't decided what yet.

What do you do to buy locally? Especially in the winter when the Farmer's Markets aren't necessarily available. Also, if you're in the MidSouth area, where do you buy free-range meat?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

I made a new pork tenderloin recipe tonight, loosely based on this recipe. It was super-tender and juicy, and the sauce was nicely balanced. I served it with creamy parmesan risotto and some steamed green beans. It was yummy! (The picture is awful - my battery went out right as I was trying to get a decent pic!)

Roasted Pork Tenderloin



2 lbs pork tenderloin
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 - 1 cup white wine
2 Tbsp apricot preserves
zest of 1 orange (I used a clementine, since it was what I had)
splash of balsamic vinegar



Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In an oven-safe skillet, heat up 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Salt and pepper the tenderloin, transfer to skillet, and brown on all sides. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast 15-20 minutes, or until meat is done (I heated mine to 150, but the powers that be recommend you heat it to at least 160). Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board/platter at this point.



Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in another skillet on medium high heat. Add the sliced onions, and cook for a few minutes. Turn the heat down to medium low, and let the onions continue to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.



Once you have removed the tenderloin from the skillet, place the skillet over medium-high heat, and add the wine to deglaze the pan. Add the apricot preserves, onions, zest, and balsamic, and let cook on medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes (until sauce reaches desired consistency).



Slice tenderloin and top with sauce. Serve immediately.



Garden

This has been an insane year! We've been so incredibly busy with all kinds of projects and activities that I haven't had hardly any time to cook anything new. Hopefully things will slow down a bit once the holidays pass. I have vowed to try at least one new recipe every other week in the new year.

One thing we're doing now is planning next year's garden. We put together this year's garden rather haphazardly, and ended up with cantaloupe growing in the yard (still tasted great!). I've been watching the sun, logging hours in each spot of the yard, and figuring out what we could and couldn't logistically grow. I'm not sure we'll really have any yard left once all is said and done.

I received the most gorgeous seed catalog in the mail this week from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and am really excited about the seeds I ordered. Assuming everything grows, we should have a fairly large garden with plenty of variety. I had to majorly reign myself in in the tomato section - I was astounded at the varieties! I could have an entire garden of just tomatoes.

If you're interested in planting heirloom, non-GMO seeds, they have a ton of beautiful veggies, fruits, herbs, and flowers to choose from, and many have interesting stories/histories. I can't wait to get everything in the ground!