Posts Tagged With: Organic foods

Foraging spring greens and weeds

A friend sent this to me on Face Book just a few days ago. It makes me wonder how many of us really understand how foraging can help control evasive plants. It also made me want to share this with any one who likes foraging for greens. Wild Garlic Mustard is found growing almost everywhere in the Eastern US and can be cooked and eaten like any other bitter green. Another green that is problematic in our area and across the south is Stinging Nettle.  Hardy and fast spreading by seed if given the right  growing conditions these plants crowed out natural flowers and plants . Animals do not like the smell or taste of the Garlic Mustard or Stinging Nettle so they are not controlled by the environmental conditions .

Garlic Mustard Pull flyer

Forest Service Garlic Mustard flyer

 

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Wild Mustard in Bloom

If you are in the West Virginia area and have time to help with this problem and enjoy the outdoors and cooking free wild food we could use your help. My family hopes to attend one of these pulling dates and make a nice side dish of Garlic Mustard Cakes when we get home.A dish made from boiled greens drained to remove bitterness, eggs for a binder and Italian bread crumbs fried in brown butter.

April and May is prime pulling time before the plants start to seed and West Virginia could use all the pickers we can find. We are allowed to take home as much of the Garlic Mustard as we wish but they would love for us to remove some of the plants also. For ideas on how to cook the wild greens  follow this link Cooking Mustard Garlic. Hope to see you in the woods picking this spring.

 

 

 

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, community service, country cooking, Foraging, Monongahela National Forest, organic food, regional food, Uncategorized, West Virginia, wild greens | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Americans are wasteful even at the Farmers Market

Today was another eye-opening experience at the farmers market. I am lucky to live in a community where we have at least 4 farmers markets within about a 12 mile area. I live in a small town of a zip code population of about 4,000 people and the neighboring town may have a zip code population that is double that. So together we may have about 12,000 with 4 farmers markets. We live in an agriculturally diverse area and many families also grow large gardens to can or freeze their own healthy foods. So farm fresh food is not hard to find here but today I learned that we as Americans are still looking at food in a non-realistic, non-healthy way.

Cody, Christopher and Paige Powers picking tomatoes and peppers in the garden

Cody, Christopher and Paige Powers picking tomatoes and peppers in the garden

I am getting ready to put up about 7 quarts of home-made spaghetti sauce and spent the morning talking to an older woman who worked the farm market stand. We of course talked about what I was making and what was real fresh and what they were short on. So after several minutes she headed out to the cooler to box up my order, as I bagged up the rest of my items. When she returned and I payed for 23 pounds of tomatoes and 5 pounds of peppers. She asked me if I might be  interested in the of tomatoes sitting on the counter. The box was about 5 pounds of over ripe, soft or damaged tomatoes. She said “no one wants these, they are not perfect. If you take them they are free.” Well of course I wanted them, why wouldn’t I, an over ripe tomato is the best tomato of all. I went on to explain that they looked pretty good to me and that I would just juice them when I got home. She felt better and I was over joyed to have another 5 pounds of tomatoes to take home.

Harvest Basket in the garden 2014

Harvest Basket in the garden 2014

Then on my way home it hit me. Why in the world would she say that unless she had thrown out many items from their stand. Tossed away food that was totally edible but not PERFECT. Why in this day and age would some one throw away food that could feed a needy family or a homeless person? Why are Americans so trained to think that a blemish is not normal or common? I felt offended at the thought that we are so wasteful. That we are not able to think about real food in an honest way. Fresh from the garden food is not perfect if you are realistic. It is only a farmer who sprays his crops with pesticides that never gets bug damage. It is only the tomato that is half-ripe and processed with chlorine that looks red but is hard and perfect looking at the Big  Box Store. It is only on a store shelf where food color is added  to tomato juice to make it red. Why are we eating like this?

As I drove, I got madder and madder. I thought about the millions of children who only see their food on the shelf at Fred Myers, King Supers or the Piggly Wiggly.  They will never see  green beans and peas growing on a vine or carrots are dug up from underground. Some will never know that their french fries are under that bushy plant and are dug up before being fried to a crispy treat. We are raising food ignorant children. We are raising people who have no real idea what fresh from the garden food looks like or tastes like. What a shame that our country has the most money and is the most disconnected from our food.

So when I got home I washed the box full of  blemished tomatoes. I cut away a few spots and pulled out a stem or two and did this.

free tomatoes ready to be made into juice

free tomatoes ready for juicing

I juiced the tomatoes and made about 1 gallon of fresh juice that my family can make into chili, a soup stock, a V-8 drink  or a marinade for a tough deer stake. I am sure I will freeze some as soon as I get a couple of freezer containers. I will use most of it fresh with in a couple of days. I am thinking that a deer roast with peppers, onions, tomatoes in the slow cooker sounds good. I am proud that I have used what others would have thrown out. I have saved my family money with free food and I have saved my child from eating processed food once again.

1 gallon fresh tomato juice  for free.

1 gallon fresh tomato juice for free.

When will American’s learn to look at food and its usefulness in less wasteful way? Was my grandmother crazy when she said,” Waste Not, Want Not.” I hope that slowly I am teaching my children that food does not need to look perfect to taste wonderful. That we can still use a deformed carrot in stew and make jam out of over ripe fruit. That we are able to live closer to the land because we understand that nothing in this life is perfect, but what God provides for us is perfectly made for our use. Amen!

Categories: Chili, cooking, country cooking, family health, gardening, health, Homestead, organic foods, regional food, soup, steak with peppers, Tomatoes, Uncategorized, venison | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Slow Cooker Wild Turkey Breast, Wild Living, Wild Foods

One of the things that I love best about West Virginia is our lack of dependence on the commercial food chain. It takes time to learn how to make delicious meals with wild game, but I would not live any other way. We have been very fortunate over they years to have found some really wonderful hunting locations that supply my family with lots of wild turkey every spring. I even tried to hunt a couple of days this year, even in the cast. Tom and I never even saw a turkey those days, but he was lucky to fill his tags for the spring. Cody my oldest son was not able to go this spring as he was moving but this is a nice bird from last season. On average the birds weigh about 15 to 18 pound uncleaned and we get around 6 to 8 pounds of white breast meat per bird.

Cody with wild turkey

Toms spring gobbler The legs and thighs are for making poultry stock and any thing with a diced meat  like pot pie. The the dark meat from the legs and thighs is tougher than their domestic counter parts. They actually have to scratch, hunt and peck for their food so those legs have to work a lot harder than those white birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So after we clean and butcher the turkey we are left with two large breasts. Usually they are to large for just Tom, Christopher and I to eat all in one meal. We either invite friends over or some times when we are in a rush I just toss a whole breast in the slow cooker and use the left overs for another nights meal.slow cooker wild turkey with pan sauce

Once a person eats well cooked wild turkey there is rarely a person who goes back to domestic turkey. Wild turkey is not dry and is not so pumped up on steroids so the meat is not as thick so it cooks more evenly. This means that seasoning and marinades penetrate the meat more fully.

In my case we make a soup stock to cook the turkey in and then thicken the broth at the end for a pan sauce with all the flavors you cooked the turkey in. I like it over mashed potatoes just like gravy.

 

Slow Cooker Wild Turkey Breast

 

1.  5 to 6 pound wild turkey breast off the bone.

2.  1 large carrot.

3. 1/2 med sweet onion..

4. 2 teaspoons minced garlic.

5.  2 teaspoons celery flakes ( do not like eating celery so I opt for the flakes if you have fresh celery use about 1/2 cup).

6. 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning.

7.  3 teaspoons butte.r

8. 1 cup white wine.

9.  2 bullion cubes in two cups water or two cups chicken stock.

10. 1/4 cup corn starch and 1/2 cup water to make as a thickener for sauce.

 

 

Starting with the turkey breast, remove any pin feathers, fat or connective tissue that remains after butchering. Set a side as you prepare the broth that the breast simmer in.

turkey breast with pin feather showing

turkey breast with pin feather showing

When finished cleaning the breast, I make what will be a traditional chicken soup starter. I start with heating up the slow cooker adding my water and bouillon or stock to the cooker.

slow cooker with water and bouillon

slow cooker with water and bouillon

Next I saute’ the remaining items on the above list until the onions are translucent and the carrots and garlic are soft.

Slowly adding in the wine as the mixture softens. I let everything simmer together for couple of minutes and then add all of this to my warming stock.

Vegetables and spices added to stock

Vegetables and spices added to stock

At this point I taste the broth and adjust salt and pepper. I usually add a little salt at this point.Then add the  breast and cover with the cooker lid and simmer two hours adding wine or water if  the broth is boiling away to quickly to keep the breast moist. I like to have the broth reach up about half way up the side of the meat.

wild turkey breast in broth

wild turkey breast in broth

I let the breast cook another 3 hours and check for tenderness and doness. I try to pick the breast up with a serving fork and if it is ready is will not stay together well enough to use a fork alone. It will begin to fall apart.

I then turn off the slow cooker and let it sit a few minutes. As it cools and I begin to thicken the broth on the stove. I place a small pan on the stove with 2 teaspoons corn starch mixed with about 1/4 cup water. Then I ladle about 1 1/2 cups of broth out of the stock pot into the sauce pan and heat over  med-low  until the sauce begins to thicken. Making a sauce with a nice chicken noodle soup flavor.

Corn Starch and water mixture

Corn Starch and water mixture

 

I then remove the breast from the slow cooker, cut thin slices and drizzle with sauce. We served this with southern side dishes of mashed potatoes, seasoned green beans with bacon and fresh cantaloupe.

simple southern wild turkey dinner

simple southern wild turkey dinner

 

Just as a funny side note as I was cooking I needed to open another bottle of wine for this recipe and got the cork screw out as the veggies were cooking away and tried to open  the bottle. Well in all of my years of drinking and cooking with wine I have never ever had this happen.

Broken cork floating in wine bottle

Broken cork floating in wine bottle

cork chewed up by cork screw

cork chewed up by cork screw

No mattered what I did, the cork screw just slowly descended into the cork and would not grip the cork. I lowered the handles and nothing happened. The screw just popped out and the cork just sat there with chunks of cork falling all over the counter. What a mess, I tried again and the mess just got bigger. I then got desperate and just tried to pry the cork out with a knife. A mistake I know, but my dinner was going to burn and I needed to get the darn things open!

Any suggestion on what to do if I face this situation again?  Maybe I will just go with Wild Turkey in the bottle instead of wine and make a double wild turkey dinner in stead.

 

Categories: cooking, country cooking, organic foods, slow cooker Wild turkey, turkey breast, Wild turkey | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

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