repollo
It feels so great for it to finally be Spring!  My absolute favorite season of the year. The buds are blooming, chickens are gorging themselves on worms and bugs and overseas Spaniards are getting ready to celebrate La Feria de Sevilla!  What a beautiful time!

In order to get ready for Spring and all of it’s bounty I have been trying to clear my pantry, refrigerator and deep freeze of food I preserved last year.  With my last cabbage and few carrots in my downstairs fridge, I decided to make repollo con garbanzos.  The flavors in this dish are enhanced by pork lard and bacon and slow simmered in homemade chicken broth.  A comforting side dish or meal on it’s own.

Repollo Con Garbanzos

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 1/2 cup farm fresh pork lard (or butter)
  • 7 slices of bacon, cut into thin strips
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. The night before, soak the garbanzo beans in water overnight or up to 24 hours.
  2. Prepare the cabbage.  Cut the cabbage into quarters removing the core.  Slice the leaves thinly and wash well.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the cabbage.  Bring back to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender.
  3. Once the cabbage is tender, in a large dutch oven or pot, melt the lard or butter.
  4. Add the bacon and cook until browned.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Add the onion and cook until translucent.
  6. Add the cabbage, carrots, bacon, garbanzos, bay leaves and chicken stock.
  7. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours or until the garbanzos are soft.

Serve with a green salad and crusty bread!  Buen Provecho!

 Don’t forget about my fat book giveaway! One more week to enter for your very own copy signed by the author!!!

Do I ever enjoy urban gardening! It’s so much fun to be innovative with the limited amount of dirt that we have to raise enough food to preserve and eat throughout the year.  If you’re a newbie, it’s no big deal to raise up one bed in your own yard and go from there.  But let me tell you, once the garden bug hits, you’ll be scouring your neighbor’s yard! For me, it’s come down to utilizing 5 different techniques.  The square foot garden method, raised beds, community gardening, container gardening and edible landscape gardening.

The square foot garden

Mel Bartholomew is a genious!  He came up with the idea to raise up 4 x 8 beds, fill it with a mixture of 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite, grid it off in 1 x 1 sections, and plant a different flower, vegetable or herb in each square foot, using 1, 4,  9, or 16 plants per square foot.  It maximizes what you can plant in a small area.  I have seen gardens flourish using this method and the output is incredible!

Here is my current Spring plan that I planted outdoors two weeks ago.  I utilized two of my raised beds and although this diagram is not exact it gives you an idea of how I used a grid to know how many qty of veggies to sow.  The empty areas is where I will plant my second succession of the same crop.

Raised Beds

I can’t speak highly enough of raised beds.  If you live in the city, it’s one the best and easiest ways to garden.  It allows you to fill it in with rich organic soil and compost.  A necessity for those of us that  have a lot of clay, sand or rocks in our yards.  They are visually appealing to our neighbors and easily incorporated into the landscape.  One of my favorite things about raised beds is that they keep the insect and weed populations down!  Raise it up a little higher and the bunnies and ground squirrels will stay away as well.  Irrigation of water is wonderful in raised beds, just make sure to stay on top of watering during the very hot months.

Community Gardening

A revelation to those of us with shady backyards or apartment dwellers with no land.  Cities throughout our nation are taking a stand for the local foods movement and providing us with abandoned areas to garden in.  They generally divide the land into plots and assign them to city dwellers.  It revitalizes the landscape and builds community!  I have been so blessed by our community garden.  I have met the most amazing people both seasoned and novice gardeners helping each other to continually learn all that organic gardening entails. I am so excited as our community garden this year is expanding to 60 more plots!  That’s 60 more gardeners to chat with, learn from, and best of all…. share our harvest!

Here is a post I wrote last year specifically on how I got involved in our community garden and how I started on my path to growing my own and supporting local family farmers :D  The Local Foods Movement Part 1: The Franklin Community Garden.  If you are from Des Moines, Iowa I would encourage you to look into the Community Gardening Program.  It’s really a win win situation.  The city provides you with the plot, compost, wood chips, and water!  All you have to do is seed, feed, and weed!  How awesome is that?!!

Container Gardening

Another great way to grow your own in small spaces!  I generally grow my herbs in large containers in my backyard.  This year I’ll be utilizing the Garden Patch™ Grow Box™ to grow my cucumbers in and 55 gallon drums to grow my potatoes!  When you run out of room, growing in containers is the way to go.  Just make sure to stay on top of watering as the containers heat up quickly underneath the hot sun and dries out the soil.  Container gardening is also a great way to control insects, fungus and disease.  For all you apartment dwellers, container gardening is a suitable way to grow veggies on your apartment roof!

Edible Landscape Gardening

This is an area I’m excited to start diving into.  Incorporating vegetable plants into our landscape.  This year I am pulling up a perennial I have growing in my front garden.  I will replace it with vertically growing beans which should look beautiful to the side of my large window in front of my house.  It will add greenery and be visually appealing to passer by’s.  For me, the added bonus is that I will have beans growing right in my front yard!  This is the theory behind edible landscape vegetable gardening. Incorporating vegetable plants and fruit bushes into the landscape side by side perennials and annuals.  Swap an ordinary bush for a blueberry bush!  Add sweet potatoes into the mix.  The vining foliage is both beautiful and edible!  The tubers will store all winter :D  It’s really just thinking about how to integrate your vegetable plants and fruit bushes to have it look like a part of the landscape.

Well garden soldiers, I hope this was helpful.  With all the outdoor gardening I’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks, I didn’t have a chance to get a post up called, “It’s Spring… Start Planting Now!”  As a reminder, it’s a perfect time to seed spring vegetables outdoors now.  They will have ample time to thrive in the cooler weather before they fade away in the summer.  If you don’t have any raised beds or plots, you can start by growing a salad garden in containers.  A few containers seeded with lettuce, carrots, radishes and beets!  A super easy way to grow your own salad!

Until next time, have fun outside :)

Part 1: Ordering Seed Catalogs
Part 2: Understanding the differences between Heirloom, Hybrid, GMO, and Organic Seeds
Part 3: Planting Zones, Frost Dates, and Planting Calendars
Part 4. Understanding Succession Planting
Part 5. Spring Time is Near! It’s Time to Start Those Seedlings!
Part 6. Growing Seeds Indoors Under Supplemental Lighting
Part 7. Tending your seedlings
Part 8. Methods of Urban Gardening

fat_book

I’m so glad to continue sharing what I have learned about using real fats!  I wrote my first post on this series in February of this year called Real Fat.  It was winter time and I found myself quite comfortably wearing stretchy pants, over sized sweat shirts and well… hibernating.  Well, it’s April and Summer is right around the corner meaning shorts, tank tops, pools… gasp!! 

Okay, take a deep breath and bare with me.  If I were thinking like society has raised us to think, I would go low fat, low calories and cut out the carbs, however, I will not do this to my body.  My body craves and needs saturated fats, it needs carbohydrates and I need to be at full attention for my husband and children and not be so focused on my weight.

I was watching an episode of Tyra the other day. The show I so happened to watch was about a weight loss plan.  It was called, Get Your Shape, In Shape!  I really liked that she stressed getting our own shape in shape because we are all so different and yet we all look at one type and strive for that. So for me, I’ve been cutting my portion sizes especially for my late night dinner meal, I’ve quit eating after 8 and exercise at least 3 times a week. So far, I have dropped 4 pounds.  That is literally all I’ve done.  It goes to show me that I’ve been overeating and that has caused me to carry extra weight. I still drink full fat raw milk, use real butter on my morning toast accompanied by my fried egg, and use olive oil and pork lard to create some pretty amazing dishes.

So let’s talk about real fat and why it’s so good for our health.

This whole saturated fat debate only started 100 years ago.  Manufacturers came up with the idea to turn inexpensive vegetable oils into solid fats that could be used like the more expensive butter and lard.  They also needed this solid fat to have a long shelf life and thus, the process of hydrogenation was invented. Hydrogen atoms were added to unsaturated fatty acids in oils which allowed the oils to stay solid at room temperature.

In the 1950′s Ancel Keys came out with a published study correlating saturated fats with heart disease.  It was a faulty study and yet the vegetable oil industry ran with it and started advising all Americans to quit using pork lard, beef tallow and butter in favor of shortening, vegetable oils and margarine.  All man made and unbeknownst at the time, filled with trans fats.  By the 1980′s only 2% – 3% of households were using real fats.

Fat is an important part to our body makeup.  We need fat.  Our brain, and hormones rely on fat to  function.  Digestion is impossible without fats. An interesting fact I learned from Jennifer McLagan’s book is that fat and protein are found together in nature because our bodies need the fat to help us digest the protein, so it makes sense to eat a well marbled steak or even chicken with it’s skin.  Fat also helps the body to absorb nutrients, calcium, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are all benefits of eating real butter, cream, pork lard, beef tallow, meats with fats, even bacon from pastured animals raised as God intended by local family farmers.

Unfortunately, way too many of us heeded the advice to turn away from real fats and turned to man-made hydrogenated fats which are full of trans fats.  30 years later we were not healthier but heavier and our state of disease is at an all time high.  These trans fats are difficult for our body to  process, so instead stores them as fat.  They increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower the “good” HDL.  They interfere with insulin production, promoting diabetes and obesity. In 2002 it was finally advised that no amount of trans fat is good for our body.

The other dietary fat that we substituted was vegetable oil for pork lard in cooking and frying. Vegetable oil is a polyunsaturated fat.  Polyunsaturated fats that are not hydrogenated are very unstable and oxidize easily, especially when heated, so they are not good to cook with.  They damage our cell’s DNA.  With the abundance of polyunsaturated vegetable oil that we are using, it’s effecting the balance of the essential fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3 in our bodies.  The ideal ratio is 2 – 1.  Twice the amount of omega-6 to omega-3.  By replacing animal fats with vegetable oil many of us are now getting 29 times more omega-6 to omega-3 since it’s a rich source of linoleic acid.  An excess of omega 6 has been linked to cancer, heart disease, liver damage, learning disorders, weight gain, and malfunction of the immune, digestive and reproductive systems.  It’s interesting to note that while our omega-6 intake has skyrocketed our omega-3 has declined.  Meat and butter from grass-fed animals contain omega-3, but animals raised in factory farms fed a grain diet are full of omega-6 acids.

One exception to this is Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil.  I use a lot of olive oil in my cooking as it’s been used in Spain and the Mediterranean world traditionally for centuries!  It is heat stable to 355 degrees making it great for sauteing, even frying.  Make sure it doesn’t go above that and turn rancid.  It’s definitely best eaten raw over salads and drizzled on yummy foods.

Interesting stuff, right?!

It’s really too bad that we have to get so scientific with food.  Ughhh… I hate it!!  We have seriously stripped our food of all flavor and taste and made eating a science project.  Really, let’s just eat normally.  If we cook with real foods and eat in moderation, we can ENJOY FOOD!  Let’s not feel guilty because we ate a piece of marbled steak with fat or that our morning toast used butter.  It’s nourishing and taste out of this world.  I fell into the same trap and let me tell you, the flavors created by using real fats are DELICIOUS! My grandparents lived a long life, my husbands grandparents are still living and they all grew up using real pork lard, real butter, real tallow, real milk.  I’ll follow their advice as they didn’t sacrifice flavor or nutrition!

It’s also really exciting to see a new generation embracing real foods and real fats.  Celebrity chefs such as Mario Batali introducing lardo on his menu.  Restaurants utilizing duck fat for dishes such as duck confit or to fry potatoes.  As I get into this series, I’m excited to share with you all aspects of the animal.  How to cook the tender and tough cuts of meat.  How our ancestors knew that to tenderize their grass fed roast, they would first have to lard it.  And back then it wasn’t called grass fed it was just a roast ;)  Let’s just praise God that we are living in an exciting time where we are taking back our food system and retraining ourselves on how to cook and nourish our families.

So the giveaway!!!  I’m so excited as Jennifer McLagan the author of fat, an appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient, with recipes has agreed to give away one copy of her book!  This is a book that I would encourage on everyone’s bookshelf.

How To Enter:

  1. Leave me a comment with what kind of fat you are interested in learning more about, butter, pork lard, beef tallow, or poultry fat.
  2. Become a fan of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa on Facebook and share on your wall 
  3. Subscribe to receive my posts via email.
  4. Follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. (copy and paste)

    @dianabauman Fat, An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient Book Giveaway!  #realfood http://shar.es/mqUOo

Please Remember, leave a separate comment for each entry, or your extra entries will not count!

Every comment must include an email address – it’s ok if you comment with your blog account as long as I can get to your email through your blog!  The giveaway ends April 23rd and is open to the Continental US only.  The winner will be chosen by random.org.

This post is a part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday!

According to random.org

Kristin from Flexy Fare will be receiving a Grow Box to grow some fresh veggies!!!

Kristen said…

I have some seedlings coming up for Pink Ponderosa tomatoes, which can get up to 2 lbs! I would try those or some of my sweet peppers. :-)

This is a gift that lasts a lifetime!

I am so excited for your Kristen!! Send me your mailing address and I’ll make sure this gets shipped to you right away!
If you didn’t win, don’t be sad as I have a couple other exciting giveaways coming soon, right in time for the farmers market… hint.. hint!!
Until then, have a great day :D

roast_leg_lamb
This was a delightful roasted leg of lamb that my family and I enjoyed yesterday for Resurrection Sunday.  The flavor of lamb is so tender and succulent that there really isn’t a whole lot of preparation or added ingredients needed.  I enjoy lamb and like to keep it’s true flavor.  I do recommend to order your lamb from a local family farmer in order to ensure that it’s been weaned and taken good care of to harvest. Here in Iowa I order my lamb by the half from Cory’s Lamb who do sell at the Downtown Farmers Market.

For this recipe my mami and I utilized the Spanish flavors of jamon serrano.  We larded the roast to keep it moist and tender throughout the roasting process and topped it with jamon to lock those flavors in and create a nice crunchy salty garnish.  For the creme de la creme, we utilized the pan drippings to pour over the sliced pieces as a sauce.  Simply Divine!

Pierna de Cordero Asada, Roasted Leg of Lamb
-Adapted from 1080 Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 4-5lb bone in leg of lamb
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic pressed or minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup farm fresh pork lard
  • 10 slices jamon serrano (prosciutto or bacon will be fine)
  • salt

Method:

  1. Rub the lamb with the garlic and pork lard on both sides. sprinkle with salt.
  2. Top with the jamon serrano or other cured ham.
  3. Let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 450F.  Put the lamb into a roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes.
  5. Lower the oven temperature to 350F and roast for 15-20 minutes per pound basting occasionally.
  6. When the meat is done, let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving.  This will ensure that the juices stay within the meat.
  7. With the reserved drippings and juice in the roasting pan, add 1 cup water and heat on the stovetop until all the bits and pieces have been incorporated into the sauce.
  8. Serve with the roasted leg of lamb.

Buen Provecho!

 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
John 2:19
Have any of you seen the Passion of the Christ?  It had been awhile since I had seen it last, and man does it really make you reflect on who Christ really is. He was real… living… breathing.  He endured so much ridicule, torment, and torture so that we would have a place with him when we leave this Earth.  To think that he did that for me, for you, is humbling at it’s best and for me puts real life into perspective.
Along with everything that he did for us he also left us with commandments…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  Matthew 5:43-45
Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  Matthew 22:37-39

It’s so easy to get caught up in gossip, in chatter, in noise.  My Jesus resolution is to block that noise, to be kinder, to love my neighbor, and to build up my relationship with my Father in Heaven.  In this day, I encourage you to reflect on what God has done for us.  To look at our lives and see how he is working in it.  If you do not have that relationship with Him, know that he yearns for you!  He wants to be a Father to every one of us but we must seek, we must read his Word and he will, HE WILL, answer when you call!

 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  Luke 11:9-13

So many times, I need to remember that he died for me, he carried that cross for ME!  Let’s surrender everything… all of our fears, our worries to HIM.  Man, when we can just say, forget it!  I GIVE UP!!  Take it Jesus, I’ll follow in faith, will we have true peace :)  This is my constant prayer and something I constantly have to reflect on, that I can’t live in this world one day without Him.  That I can’t do it by myself!

My life verses…

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.  Phillipians 4:6-9

I encourage you to ask God for forgiveness, to forget about the small bickers, to love one another, to be kind and have a pure joy for this time that He has given us on this Earth.  He loves you, He loves me!  What he did for us is enough to stop with the complaining, jealousy, bitterness, hurt, and anger and focus on everything good that we have in our lives :)  Please remember that NONE of those things above come from Christ.  Their is a constant battle and the enemy is very real.  (These are my notes to myself as well!)

Let’s Praise Jesus, our God, today and everyday.  He fought the battle and already won!!!

Happy Easter Everyone!  He is Alive!!!