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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!!!

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With all of the gardening and preserving of food that I enjoy to store up for the winter, I wanted to share with you a traditional form of canning that has increased in popularity over the years.

Lacto-fermentation.  Just the word fermentation can sound so scary and beyond any regular persons capabilities, right?!  Here is some good news.  When we really begin to understand what fermentation is the less scary it becomes.  Fermentation happens all around us and many of us are eating fermented foods on a daily basis.  Bread, yogurt, cheese, wine, and beer are all examples of foods that undergo a process of fermentation.

According to dictionary.com

fermentation is a chemical reaction in which sugars are broken down into smaller molecules that can be used in living systems.

I just sowed 2 different varieties of beets and will be fermenting them to enjoy all of the rich health benefits one receives from eating fermented foods.

In order to ferment beets or any other vegetable, all this really means is that it undergoes a salt brine cure set out in room temperature for about 3 days to 2 weeks.  Naturally, one would think, “won’t the food spoil?”  By covering your food in the brine and allowing it to sit in room temperature it creates an ideal condition for the lactic acid-forming bacteria existing on the food surface to feed upon the sugar naturally present in the food.  The lactic acid will continue to grow (or ferment) until enough has formed to kill any bacteria present that would otherwise cause the food to spoil.

The benefits of naturally “pickling” our bounty is that the lactic acid, not only keeps the vegetable in a perfect state of preservation but promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.

According to Sally Fallon from Nourishing Traditions

The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels.  These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances.

It’s so funny that what used to be completely normal and so unscientific now needs a clear definition in order to feel comfortable to begin to adapt these foods into our lifestyle.  Clearly our age of pasteurization has everything to do with it.  Unfortunately, we are depriving our bodies of needed bacteria in order to have a healthy intestinal flora.  I really believe that a lot of our sickness starts in our gut and by incorporating and reintroducing many different varieties of lactobacilli, we can begin to rejuvenate our intestinal flora improving our digestion and health.

The more that you start preserving and adding canning books to your bookshelf you will notice that every canning book has at least one recipe for brine curing or lacto-fermentation.  Before the age of canning and using vinegar to pickle, our ancestors preserved their bounty by means of fermentation.  All across the world we have natural pickling recipes to prove this true.  From kimchi in Korea, cortido in South America, sauerkraut in Europe, and relishes in the States.

One of the things I really enjoy about fermenting is that you don’t have to spend all of the time needed to can!  A definite bonus for me :D  Also, it’s another great way to get your kids involved in making real food.

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Below are a few recipes for fermenting foods from Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions.

Korean Kimchi

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For me any form of sauerkraut was well… unappetizing.   I did not grow up with this and found my first batches of sauerkraut and kimchi rather unappetizing.  After research and reading seasoned fermenters experiences I have come to find out that in order to get the best tasting sauerkraut it needs to be fermented for at least 6 months.  Meaning 3 days fermenting at room temperature and placing in the fridge for 6 months before eating.  Wow, did I find this to be ever true!!  I fermented a large batch of this kimchi and would try a bit of it every month.  It has now officially been 6 months and taste out of this world delicious!!  I will now start a routine to make a few jars of this every 6 months or twice a year to have a delicious and nutritious batch of kimchi at all times.  This idea would hold true for regular sauerkraut and cortido.  This has just enough spice and tang, so yumm!!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of napa cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup daikon radish, grated
  • 1 tbls freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3-4 green onions diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbls salt)

Place vegetables, ginger, garlic, red chile flakes, sea salt and whey in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices.  Place in a quart sized, wide mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage.  Cover with a large cabbage leaf to ensure the kimchi stays below the liquid.  The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Fermented Beets

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This has to be my favorite fermented food so far because my kids LOVE it!
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They are so easy to make and taste so good!  Earthy yummy beets.
Ingredients:
  • 12 medium beets
  • 1tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbls salt)
  • 1 cup filtered water, this is very important.  In order for proper fermentation your water needs to be filtered and clean of any chlorine which will inhibit the fermentation process.

 Prick beets in several places, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 3 hours, or until soft.  Peel and cut into a 1/4 inch julienne or slice.  (Do not grate or cut the beets with a food processor – this releases too much juice and the fermentation process will proceed too quickly, so that it favors formation of alcohol rather than lactic acid.)  Place beets in a quart-sized, wide mouth mason jar and press down lightly with a wooden pounder or meat hammer.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over beets, adding more water if necessary to cover the beets.  The top of the beets should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Cortido – Latin American Sauerkraut

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Ingredients:
  • 1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
  • 1 tbls dried oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbls salt)

In a large bowl mix cabbage with carrots, onions, oregano, red chili flakes, sea salt and whey.  Pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices.  Place in 2 quart-sized, wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage.  Cover with a large cabbage leaf to ensure the kimchi stays below the liquid. The top of the cabbage mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jars.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

These are recipes, some adapted, from Nourishing Traditions.  There are numerous ways you can begin to ferment your own vegetables.  Really, you can include any sort of vegetable or spice to your liking.  This year I’m going to experiment more with my harvest.  I plan on buying a crock and try to do some large scale fermenting including vegetables such as cauliflower, onions, garlic, dill, green tomatoes and wow.. the list can go on.  I can’t wait!!  I also have a few recipes utilizing fermented veggies that I can’t wait to share!

I hope you found this way of preserving vegetables exciting and something to try in your own home.  Please do share if you’ve fermented vegetables and how they turned out.  Like and dislikes.  I was excited to create this post especially for Annette’s lacto-fermenting carnival over at Sustainable Eats.

Other posts of interests

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This dish has always been a favorite of my sisters and I.  The smell of homemade meatballs and the slow simmer of sherry wine brings me back to Espana!  Small cobblestone streets lined with clad iron balconies filled with beautiful terra cotta pots of multi colored geraniums.  Can you tell my heart and mind is set upon my trip to Spain which is only 5 short weeks away!  I can’t wait to smell the beautiful Spanish air! Back to my dish, lol!  This is a wonderful, easy to make dish especially for this time of year.  Not quite cold enough for a stew and not quite warm enough for a backyard bbq.  It’s also a great way to use up those storage potatoes as Spring time and green veggies are near!

In order to capture the best flavors of this dish I recommend to use a good dry (fino) sherry wine, preferably from Spain.  You will find complete differences in flavor when using an ordinary sherry and one from the Andalusian region of Spain.  Manzanilla. The brand I buy here in Iowa, is Pedro Romero, a pale dry sherry, fino.  If you are from Iowa, it can be found at Gateway Market under dessert wines.

Papas Con Albondigas

Ingredients:

  • 5 large potatoes chopped
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, pressed or diced
  • 2tbl fresh parsley, cut into small pieces
  • 1 farm fresh egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1 cup sherry wine
  • pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  • 1-2 tbls arrowroot powder to thicken (cornstarch or flour will work fine)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • EVOO
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

papas_albondigas2
  1. Begin by making the meatballs.  In a large bowl mix the ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, egg, breadcrumbs, and 1tsp salt.
  2. Form into 2″ meatballs.
  3. In a large dutch oven (I used my cast iron) warm 1/4 cup (or so) of extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Brown the meatballs on all sides.
  5. Once the meatballs are browned, add 1 cup of sherry wine. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Once the meatballs have simmered in the wine for 20 minutes, add the potatoes and enough water to cover.
  7. Add a dash of saffron threads for color (optional), arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) to thicken, 2 bay leaves and salt/pepper to taste.
  8. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

This dish is wonderful with crusty bread and a nice green salad.

Buen Provecho!

If you haven’t signed up already,  I’m hosting a Garden Patch™ Grow Box™ Giveaway!  An easy way to Grow Your Own Food even in small spaces!!! Check it out!

I am so excited to have Gaelle of What Are You Feeding Your Kids These Days guest post.  What I love about Gaelle and her super creative blog is that she is the French me!  Her mother lives in France and her way of cooking healthy wholesome meals has been instilled in her from her heritage, her family.  She is very adamant about feeding her children nourishing foods and shares with us how easy and simple French cooking can be.  You want to see something incredible?  Check out Gaelle’s version of buckwheat crepes
A couple weeks ago, I read on her blog that she was going back to work.  In order to keep feeding her family healthy foods she started up her menu plan once again.  I thought this was a fabulous idea especially for working mothers that just don’t have the time to prepare a homemade meal after work.  Gaelle puts the thought and game plan together for her readers and I just had to share it with my readers.  All it takes is a little work the evening before and away you go with homemade, nourishing meals for the week.  So if your a working mama out there or really any mama that could benefit from a menu plan, visit Gaelle at What are You Feeding Your Kids These Days!  I know you’ll find it as bright and cheerful as I do!

Day Suggested Menu
Monday Boeuf Bourguignon with steamed potatoes

Plain Yogurt with honey

Fresh Fruits

Tuesday Buckwheat Kasha with Mushrooms and Onions with Green Salad

Coconut Macaroons

Wednesday Swiss Chard Soup with Socca

Plain Yogurt with dark brown sugar

Fresh Fruits

Thursday Tuna Curry with Vegetables and Rice

Plain Yogurt with homemade Apple Sauce

Friday Ham and Olives Savory Cake with Green salad

Plain Yogurt with chestnut spread

Fresh Fruits


Boeuf Bourguignon



Buckwheat Kasha with Mushrooms and Onions



Swiss Chard Soup       Socca




Tuna Curry with Vegetables and Rice

Ham and Olives Savory Cake

Game Plan:

Sunday Evening:
  • You want to make the Boeuf Bourguignon on Sunday evening. It’s not difficult at all (go and read all the comments of some of my friends who made it). It just takes a while to cook. To speed up things, you could use regular onions instead of pearl onions. The taste might be slightly different but at least you won’t spend 20 minutes weeping in the kitchen. Since it’s Sunday, you could ask for help to peal and cut the veggies!
  • You could make it with steamed (boiled) potatoes or pasta (egg noodles are great). I chose not to publish the recipe with pasta so that you could have a “pasta emergency dinner” during the week if need be!
  • A serving of frozen green beans on the side would also be great.
Monday Evening:
  • You just have to prepare the side dish for the Boeuf Bourguignon as it heats up: egg noodle, potatoes and/or green beans. I chose not to publish the recipe with pasta so that you could have a “pasta emergency dinner” during the week if need be!
  • If you have time, you could make the apple sauce for Thursday evening. You can keep the apple sauce in the fridge for up to 5 days. The recipe calls for rhubarb and banana… but you can use whatever fruits you have (pears, strawberries, etc.) or just plain apples (with/without cinnamon).
  • The Boeuf Bourguignon makes a great leftover for lunch (if you can reheat it)
Tuesday Evening:
  • Make the Macaroons first. They are very easy to make but are even easier if you let the dough rest for 15-30 mn in the fridge before laying the macaroons on parchment paper.  If you are up for a little mess, you can ask your children for help to scoop the macaroons! Macaroons are also best eaten fresh so it’s not a great idea to make them the day before.
  • While the macaroons are in the fridge (or in the oven), prepare the kasha. You want to cook the
     mushrooms and onions first; kasha cooks in less than 15 minutes. 
  • If your children don’t eat green salad, you can always give them cucumber or avocado.
  • Just after dinner, prepare the socca batter. Italians like to let it rest overnight (I generally make it in the morning or early afternoon for dinner). It takes 5 minutes to make so don’t think that you don’t have the time!
  • Kasha makes a great leftover if you can reheat your lunch.
Wednesday Evening:
  • You have to make the Swiss chard soup and cook the socca. Start pre-heating your oven for the socca as you start the soup.
  • If you are opting for the Caramelized Onions socca, start with caramelizing the onions. It takes a while. If you are just serving it plain (or with green onions), just start making the Swiss Chard soup.
  • The Swiss chard soup is really easy to make and takes less than 30 minutes.
  • 15 mns before dinner, make the first batch of socca and make the 2nd/3rd batch afterwards.
  • If you are feeling zealous, and have not made the Apple Sauce on Monday evening, you can make it on Wednesday.
Thursday Evening:
  • If you have not made the Apple Sauce before, you have to make it on Thursday evening together with the Tuna Curry. 
  • If you have to make both, start with the apple sauce: while it cooks, you’ll cook the curry and rice.
  • The curry takes less than 30mns to make. You could add whatever vegetables you have in place of/in addition to yellow squash. Zucchinis and snow peas are great.
  • While you start sauteing the vegetables and tuna, prepare the rice.
  • The tuna dish makes a great leftover if you can reheat your lunch.
Friday Evening:
  • It’s Friday. Pressure is off.  You can take the time to make the Ham & Olives Savory pound cake. Since the batter requires beer, you can drink the rest while you finish up cooking the cake!
  • If your children don’t eat green salad, you can always give them a few cucumber slices or carrots. Any raw veggies would do it.
  • The leftover cake is great to take on a pique-nique on Saturday instead of sandwiches.

Notes: All photographs and content on Whatareyoufeedingyourkidsthesedays.com can not be used for commercial purposes without prior approval.

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Good Morning Garden Soldiers!  I can’t believe it’s already been over two months since I’ve started this series.  If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the Garden Patch™ Grow Box™ Giveaway! A super easy way to Grow Your Own Food even in small areas!!

Today, I’m going to talk about tending your seedlings and how to best nurture them to help them grow to beautiful strong plants.  As my examples, I’m going to be using my tomato seedlings.

Watering

One of the first steps you’ll need to do is to make sure you are watering correctly.  Some plants are more forgiving than others.  Below is a video I took of how to water your seedlings.  Always from below.  This was taken before my true sets of leaves had grown in.

I know, it was a bit bouncy, lol!!  If you have any questions on watering, leave me a comment or send me an email.

This year I actually started my tomato plants in a larger peat pot with only a small amount of dirt on the bottom.  For all of my other seedlings, I start them in small peat pots and as they get bigger, I transplant them to a larger peat pot giving them room to grow more before I transplant them outside.

Tomato plants are a bit different than most other vegetables.  The stem of the tomato plant can be planted deep within the dirt and will start to form new roots encouraging a stronger plant and root system.  If you have ever bought tomato plants from the nursery, they always instruct to plant the entire plant leaving only 2 inches above ground.  Last year, I actually posted a video of someone starting their seedlings in this same way to utilize the concept of developing more roots for a stronger plant.  I followed the advice and as you can see from the images above, the seedlings have grown with 2 true sets of leaves.  You can definitely tell the difference between the cotelydon leaves which nourished and fed the seedling to the plants actual true set of leaves and the onset of photosynthesis.

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Now that the seedlings have grown their true sets of leaves, we can thin or cut the other seedlings in each cell so that only the strongest remains.  You do not want to pull them out as this can disturb the root system of the seedling that you want to keep.

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Since these were my tomato plants, I went ahead and filled them in with dirt.  This will encourage that tall stem to start developing roots.

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Fertilizer

Now that the plants have 2 true sets of leaves, it’s time to start fertilizing the young seedlings.  In order to keep these babies organic, I feed my seedlings a fish emulsion every other week.  It’s a natural based plant food and one that you should be able to find at a local nursery.  You can also use a seaweed based fertilizer.  For the first month, I dilute the formula since the seedlings are so young.  My bottle of fish emulsion calls for 1 tsp in a gallon of water.  So naturally, I half that amount for the first month. After that I’ll go ahead and use the teaspoon/gallon ratio and only water enough so that the soil is moist and not soggy.

This is where trial and error comes in Garden Soldiers!!  You can do it!  Be vigilent of how much you are watering.  Once you find the right ratios, stick with it and write it down!  This can be the most troublesome part of starting seedlings indoors as well as watering outdoors.  A topic to come!!  I’m a stickler when it comes to watering and constantly keeping an eye on the soil temperature.

Temperature

One of the best investments I have made was buying a soil thermometer.  A soil thermometer allows you to check the temperature of the soil to make sure the growing environment is at a right temperature.  If the soil is too cold, the seedlings can go dormant and grow at a very slow pace.  This can be very apparent on tomato seedlings.  If your tomato leaves turn purple underneath, this is a clear sign that the soil temperature is too cold.  You will need to either place a germinating heat mat underneath your trays or place a heater nearby.

Your soil thermometer will tell you which temps for which plants.  As a general rule of thumb, if starting your seedlings indoors try to at least keep the soil temperature at 70F.

Mold

One of the biggest reasons we want to make sure and not over water our plants is to discourage the growth of mold.  Mold thrives on damp, wet, humid conditions.  You may start to see a white thin film of mold start to develop on your peat pots.  This is not a big deal and one that can be rid of by simply sprinkling cinnamon over it.  If you start to see green mold, that’s when you know you have a problem.  The best way to avoid this is to make sure your not over watering and if you think that your conditions may be too humid, place a fan in the area of your seedlings to promote air circulation.

As you can tell, tending to your seedlings is the most important aspect to grow strong and healthy plants.  This is not something that you learn right away, but through trial and error.

If any garden soldier out there has pictures of their seedlings, please email them to me.  I would love to post a round up of people Growing Their Own Food!!!  I am so EXCITED as next week I will start to seedlings outdoors!!!  5 weeks before my frost date I can start to plant peas, radishes, spinach and swiss chard!  Spring…. BRING IT!!!

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