Category: Food

Sustainability and meat

I’ve seen a lot of info on the incredible (bad) environmental impact of meat production — the amount of land and water it takes to grow a cow is staggering. Something like 77% of the world’s land that is used for agriculture is used to graze livestock. Lamb/mutton, beef, and cheese (mostly cows still) top the list of inefficient ways to produce a gram of protein. I see plant-based fake meat (Beyond, Impossible, etc) marketing toward this — a lower impact way to enjoy a burger. I’d like to see more focus on using existing food sources to reduce the amount of meat contained in meals — rewriting recipes to reduce meat consumption.

I make a lot of meals where meat is a small component of the dish — additions instead of subtractions from the normal recipe. Enhancements instead of restrictions. Turkey burgers with lots of spinach, some feta, and garlic. Stroganoff with three different types of mushrooms, plenty of onions, and a bit of beef. Tacos and wraps loaded with rice, beans, tomatoes, onions, avocado, cheese, grilled corn, and a little grilled chicken. Sloppy joe sandwiches where half of the ground beef is replaced with red lentils. Pasta salad that’s more salad than pasta with a little bit of diced pepperoni. We have completely vegetarian meals, and I use the Beyond/Impossible substitutes to make meatball subs or sausage pizza. That all balances out the grilled steak or rack of ribs some other day.

Spruce Tip Ice Cream

I have a bunch of recipes from https://foragerchef.com that I wanted to make this year … but we seem to have missed the harvest this year. Reminder for next year — snip a bunch of the citrus-y spruce tips and make spruce tip syrup and spruce tip ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup fresh spruce tips
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice 

Instructions

  • On low, heat the half and half, sugar, salt, and egg yolks in a small sauce pan, whisking occasionally until the mixture is hot and thickens slightly.
  • Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a blender.
  • When the mixture is cool, chop the spruce tips well, then add to the blender and puree until very smooth. It takes a bit of horsepower to break down the needles, for the best flavor you really need them finely blended.
  • When the mixture is pureed, pass it through a fine mesh strainer. If possible, allow the custard to sit in the fridge overnight, which will give a better texture in the finished product. Before spinning, whisk in the lime juice.
  • Place the spruce custard in the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturers directions. Mine usually takes about 45 minutes.

German-Style Cucumber Salad

German-Style Cucumber Salad

Recipe by LisaCourse: Sides, SaladsDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1English cucumber

  • 1 Vidalia Onion

  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 c water (this was a little much)

  • 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup (to taste)

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Method

  • Thinly slice the cucumbers and onions.
  • Mix vinegar, water, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix cucumbers and onions, cover with sauce.
  • Add additional salt and/or pepper to taste.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Bread

I’ve been experimenting with whole wheat flour — white wheat, not red — and have happened across a technique for making light, fluffy dough. ~4 cups of flour, ~1 Tbsp yeast, ~1/2 cup of wheat gluten, ~1 tsp salt, ~1/4 c oil, ~1/4 c honey, and 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Supposedly the healthy stuff in the whole wheat makes it difficult for gluten to form the long, stretchy chains that make bread light and bubbly. Lemon juice helps the gluten, and the resulting bread is less dense than a traditional whole wheat bread. I add enough water to make a soft dough, then leave the dough rise in a warm location (the house this time of year, or the oven with the light on). Gently deflate, form (either form a loaf or spread out a pizza crust), let rise again. Then bake however long that sort of loaf needs to bake. Using my pullman loaf pan, that’s 30-35 minutes.

It’s a great sandwich bread!

55 Days of Grilling: April 16

We’d made ribs a few weeks ago using my usual pressure cooking-followed by high temp cooking to caramelize the sauce approach. While that works well in an oven — where the falling-apart-tender ribs sit safely in a baking dish — it’s not great for grilling. Scott wondered how cooking some ribs just on the grill would work out. I spent some time researching how people make bbq ribs on gas or electric grills and came up with a cooking approach that sounded reasonable — low temp, long cook, and wrapped in aluminum so they don’t dry out.

After washing the ribs and removing the silver skin, I rubbed them with a blend of salt, paprika, chipotle pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and garlic. I put the grill’s temperature sensor into a thick, meaty section and wrapped them in aluminum foil. The grill was heated to 300° F. The ribs cooked for about 90 minutes — the internal temperature was 180° F, which was in the range the cooking technique indicated. I took them inside and carefully unwrapped the foil.

I cut the rack in half because we had two different sauces we wanted to try. The larger half was liberally brushed with Guy Fieri Apple BBQ sauce, and the smaller half was brushed with the Brown Sugar version from the same company. The apple one smelled like some hand soap that had come with the house — not like actual apple, but like apple fragrance oil. I read and re-read the ingredients trying to figure out what the smell was, but didn’t find any artificial flavors listed.

I cranked the grill (set to 600° F, but never got over 550° F) and cooked the ribs for five minutes.

I then brushed more sauce over the ribs, flipped them, and cooked them for five more minutes.

I flipped them and allowed them to cook for another minute because the sauce on the side facing up hadn’t caramelized.

I brought the ribs inside and let them rest for a bit while everyone got ready for dinner.

Scott sliced the ribs, and dinner was ready. The BBQ sauce wasn’t great — the sauces were quite vinegar-y too. The ribs weren’t falling apart like the double-cooked ones we made a few weeks ago, but it could have used a little more time on the grill to get more tender and fully render the fat. But it was a nice meal (and an interesting experiment).

Mayo-free Deviled Eggs

Mix into the egg yolks:

  • 2 tsp tahini
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (skip this next time)
  • 1/4 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Sprinkle with a little salt and smoked paprika to serve.

17 April 2021: I made these again without the maple syrup — Anya was bummed not to get sugared up at lunch, and they were really salty this time. I used a different mustard! Next time, I’ll make them un-salted and add the salt “to taste” at the end (or, more likely add the salt to Scott’s taste since I am quickly overwhelmed by salt).

55 Days of Grilling: April 7 – Naan and Hummus

Today, I made naan on the grill.

The bread recipe is:

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T oil

The yeast and sugar were placed in the warm water and allowed to sit for ten minutes. All ingredients were combined and kneaded until a soft dough formed. The bowl was covered with a wet cloth and allowed to rise for four hours. Once the dough was ready, I placed a cast iron pan into the grill and set the grill to 600F.

The dough ball was split into four pieces and rolled out into rounds about 1/3″ thick. The rounds were sprinkled with salt and rubbed with additional oil (to keep them from sticking to the pan).

Once the grill and cast iron pan reached 600F, two naan were placed on the pan.

They cooked for 2 minutes on each side. They didn’t bubble and blister like naan is meant to — I think that’s a combination of thickly rolled dough and a temp way under the 900 or so recipes usually specify.

But they were quite tasty! I buttered each one when it came out of the grill, so we had soft, salty naan with our hummus.

Stuffed Crust Pizza Redux

I tried making another stuffed crust pizza. I rolled the crust out into a rectangle a few inches larger than the pan. We had picked up a block of mozzarella that’s not the soft, watery fresh mozzarella. We cut it into rectangular prism and lined the inside of the pan rim with cheese. This worked a lot better than shredded cheese. I then folded the excess crust over the cheese and pressed the edge together to seal it up.

Topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and way too much pepperoni. Baked at 550F for about 14 minutes

The crust was cheesy, but it was still too much bread. I’m thinking the crust would be rolled out to the pan size and then cut laterally with a bread lame. Then the crust wouldn’t be doubly thick.

But I’ve also thought it would make sense to add sauce to the cheese inside the crust. But … that’s kind of silly. It’s a pizza roll surrounding a pizza. A lot of effort without any real benefit. Pizza is cheesy and doughy already. I think that’s the end of the stuffed crust experiment. But, if we do it one more time, I’m trying the lame.