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Before leaving to Spain I made a trip to opening day of the Downtown Des Moines farmers market.  Although I knew my trip was only a few days away, I couldn’t resist!  Seeing so many of my market vendor friends again was a blessing!  They are already working so hard to provide us with nourishing food.  The market was filled with spring green veggies!  I was giddy with excitement to see spring garlic and asparagus at almost every market booth.  I purchased a bunch of asparagus from Grinnell Heritage Farm and green garlic from my friend Yang at Yang’s Organics.  As my  trip was approaching I realized I just wasn’t going to have the time to cook the asparagus and finish up my green garlic.  As my thoughts were geared on spoiling my chickens with some great produce, I realized I could ferment or pickle my asparagus.  I opened up some of my canning books and saw a couple of recipes that included tarragon.  I was so excited as I have a container of fresh tarragon growing right outside on my front patio.

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So I made a lacto-ferment with what I had!  Asparagus, green garlic, tarragon, pepper and coriander seeds.

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Before I left for Spain I put my mason jar downstairs and let it ferment for the two weeks that I was gone.  I was so excited to get back and open up the jar.  As I opened the jar, it started to bubble and sizzle.  My first taste was great!  Crunchy asparagus spears with a little bite!  A perfect side to my morning eggs!

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Last week I purchased 2 more bunches of asparagus with great bulbs of spring garlic.  I’ll be fermenting two more jars today and will for sure make at least 2 more batches after that.  This is a great way to preserve your spring asparagus!

Naturally Pickled Asparagus with Green Garlic

  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut in half.  Remove little overlaying pieces on stalk as dirt can be trapped underneath these folds.
  • 2 long stalks of green garlic chopped
  • 3 freshly cut stems of tarragon (about 4″ tall)
  • 1/2 tbl black peppercorn
  • 1/2 tbl coriander seeds
  • 1 tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (If you do not have whey, feel free to add 1 tbls extra sea salt)
  • filtered water (must be filtered as chlorine will disrupt the fermentation process)
  1. In a quart sized mason jar, add the asparagus, spears down. 
  2. Add the tarragon in between the asparagus spears.
  3. Add the green garlic, peppercorn and coriander seeds.
  4. Add the filtered water, sea salt and whey.  Make sure you add enough water to cover and 1″ from the top of the jar.
  5. Cover and shake it up.
  6. Uncover and make sure all your spears are underneath the liquid.
  7. Allow to ferment in a dark cool place for 3 days up to two weeks (or more).

Buen Provecho!

I’m sure many of you have already heard the great news that Jenny from Nourished Kitchen is currently offering an online cooking class.  A class that will teach you how to eat nutrient dense foods locally and in season.  Jenny is one of my blogging heroes.  Her knowledge and passion for real food was one of my inspirations to start my own blog.  She has a way with showing you how to simplify things and do it all affordably.  Her recipes utilize whole, fresh ingredients and her veggies always give you the sensation that they have just been pulled from the Earth.  She shows you how to use what is in season to create a satisfying dish the entire family will enjoy.

One of my favorites… Kale and Potato Soup with Chorizo

Jenny is amazing.  She is a mother, farmer’s market manager, and experienced natural foods cook.

Here is a video introduction of her e-course.

 How it Works:

You’ll get detailed lessons, hands-on experience, and be able to get all your questions answered. Do it all from the comfort of your own home – even while the kids are napping. In just 12 short weeks, you’ll have mastered everything you need to get your family started on a healthier way to eat.

Since the class is hosted online, you can download the materials and video tutorials anytime that works for you.  You can even attend in your pajamas!  Each lesson is posted once a week – every Tuesday, beginning June 1st – and you can open them up, start the video tutorials and download the printable materials when it works for you.  This class is designed to meet your needs.  Plus, if you miss a class or don’t have time to watch the video tutorial on the scheduled week, don’t worry you’ll have lifetime, full access to the class even after it ends!
Don’t worry. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, this class is still for you. The recipes are basic, the techniques simple and every lesson can be modified to meet your family’s needs, preferences and the seasonal availability of food in your area. And if you’re not sure that you’ll absolutely love the class, don’t worry – we offer a 14-day, no-questions-asked refund policy. Plus if you’re afraid you won’t be able to finish a lesson before the week’s up, simply download the print-outs and keep them for later.  PLUS you’ll have lifetime access to the course materials and members forum!

What will be covered:

  • Lesson #1: What is Real Food & Where to Find It 
  • Lesson #2: Soak Whole Grain for Pilafs and Scones 
  • Lesson #3: Homemade Sourdough Bread 
  • Lesson #4: Homemade Salad Dressings 
  • Lesson #5: Braise and Roast Seasonal Vegetables 
  • Lesson #6: Make Real Pickles and Fermented Veggies 
  • Lesson #7: Roasted & Slow-cooked Meats 
  • Lesson #8: Stocks, Broths & Soups 
  • Lesson #9: Easy Homemade Yogurt & Cheese 
  • Lesson #10: How to Make Water Kefir & Kombucha 
  • Lesson #11: Natural Sweeteners, Desserts and Seasonal Fruits 
  • Lesson #12: Menus & Meal Planning

As you can tell, it’s going to be a great class as it really teaches you how to source your ingredients and cook.

Classes start June 1st
Hurry! Enrollment ends Memorial Day, May 31st.
Save $20 with a 1-time payment of $120!
That’s less than $10 a class PLUS lifetime access to materials!

OR
Pay with just 4 easy payments of $35 each.

Here’s to Real Cooking!  Buen Provecho!!

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Nourished Kitchen’s online eCourse, so I will be earning a commission from any sales made after clicking a link in this post.

Where to begin?!  I’m home, back in Iowa.  We flew in last Thursday and my little ones and I have been trying to catch up on sleep and adjust to the time.  I’ve also been tending to my gardens and harvesting!  I’ll share in a future post.  As much as I had wanted to post from Spain, I found it extremely difficult to find wifi.  Having to pay so many euros per half hour was not sufficient enough time to post.  So… it’s left me way behind and over these next couple of weeks, I plan to catch myself up as time permits.  I have so many great pictures to share and yummy food shots to swoon over.

One of the first things I need to do is announce the winner of the Ebersole Cattle Co. Grassfed Beef Giveaway!  According to random.org

Congratulations to Katie from Kitchen Stewardship.  It’s always so much fun when someone you know wins.  If you haven’t stopped by Katie’s blog, you really must.  She’s a wealth of real food information!

Katie wrote, “Any farmer who feeds their cows grass and makes a living is one more farmer proving it can be done! Soooo necessary! Thank you!

Some posts to look forward to:

  • Garden Update
  • SPAIN!!!
  • Lacto-Fermented Asparagus and Green Garlic
  • 2 Great Giveaways!!!

Until then, Besitos!!!

It’s been quite a day but we are finally waiting at the terminal and ready to board our flight for Spain! I can’t wait to get there!

I’m totally in love with my Beco baby carrier! It really made getting through the bus, train, and airport SO much easier! With the older kids in strollers and many adults watching over all the kids we made it through pretty easily! Next… Madrid!

My sister carrying baby Ezra in her Beco. 4 months and on his first trip to Spain.

– Post From My iPhone

Today, my baby boy turns 2

He is my VBAC victory.  My baby.  My sweet… sweet… Ezekiel.  We’ll be celebrating his birthday tomorrow so that his Abuela can be here for the festivities.

I wanted to take some time to share with you through photos my life over the past few weeks.  As any gardener and homesteader knows, Spring time is a busy, busy time.  I wanted to show you some of my gardening updates and life pictures before I leave for Spain next week!  One of my prayers is that while we are gone, my hubby will keep my garden and plants watered and tended.  Totally crossing my fingers here ;)

Opening day of the farmers market was today.  I found a beautiful bunch of green garlic.  What a great edible centerpiece!
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With the amazingly warm Spring weather that we have had my family has…

Played Ball

Built a hoop house

Cried

Picnicked

Helped mama plant Spring beds

Worked our plots at the Franklin Community Garden on Work Day

Played with new friends

Got excited for our strawberry patch that has GROWN!!
Watched seedlings grow in the Spring garden

Took pictures of brothers

Watched cousin Xavier excel at soccer!

Loved on my boys!

Tried and trying to perfect homemade Mexican chorizo

Ate mama’s failed attempts

Made Pizza

Went morel mushroom hunting with my sis

Yup, a busy past few weeks but so much fun!  The Spring garden has grown even more.  Will need to take some new pics soon and share!  Until then, thank you Jesus for my family and for this life that you have given me!

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I was really excited when I heard that Cochon 555 had a tour stop in Des Moines.  I really wanted to go because I absolutely adored the mission and premise of this event.  Cochon 555 stands for 5 Pigs, 5 Chefs, 5 Winemakers.  Each chef is given a local heritage breed pig which they then cook from head to tail utilizing the entire animal in order to garner the most votes and be crowned the “King or Queen of Porc.”  The event serves as a link to preserving heritage breed pigs by promoting breed diversity in the national community.

To me, this has become very important.  To re-educate ourselves on the importance and taste difference of heritage breeds.  Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by farmers in the past, before the drastic reduction of breed variety caused by the rise of industrial agriculture.  Today, 75% of our pork comes from 3 breeds of pigs.  This is leaving many heritage breeds to become extinct.  Now what’s the big deal?  With the surge of low fat diets and the false research that saturated fat causes high cholesterol levels leading to cardiovascular disease, our meat, specifically pork has been altered in such a way that it no longer resembles pig meat from the past.  We have bred them to be so lean that they lack taste, flavor, and it’s now referred to as “the other white meat.”  Pork should be bright pink and when cooked it should still have color.  To top it all off, good quality pork meat should have swirls of fat intertwined with the meat.  I think of Jamon Iberico from Spain.  Slices of cured ham swirled with fat and flavor.  (It’s delicious topped with tomatoes on toast.)  Another huge difference is the amount of fat that the pig carries.  Heritage breeds are known to carry rich pork belly, back fat and leaf lard.  Today, industrial pigs don’t carry the fat as they did in the past.  I’m really excited as this year my friend Danelle from Stamps Family Farm is raising me a Berkshire hog raised on pasture.  I can’t wait!

A couple days before Cochon 555, Foodbuzz contacted Iowa bloggers and were giving away 5 sets of tickets to the event!  I jumped at the chance and was able to get a pair for my hubby and I!  It really pays to be a featured publisher for Foodbuzz!!  What’s even better is that I was finally going to have the opportunity to meet Alicia from Culinary Bliss.  A real foodie from Iowa City.

Upon our arrival to the swank Hotel Fort Des Moines in Downtown Des Moines, my hubby grabbed a micro-brew while I sampled some wine.

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Jasper County Winery was the only locally produced winery represented at the event.  The rest were from the Napa Valley in California.  As much as I would enjoy to support local wineries, I hate to admit that I have yet to taste a descent red wine from Iowa.  It has to do with our weather and growing conditions.  A short season with humid months just can’t produce the grapes that are needed.  They seem almost void of tannin.  I could be wrong…. but California has it down for sure and I will continue to support the wineries in the Napa Valley or Europe.
As we entered the main ballroom, Aaron King, the butcher, was burning off the hairs of a Berkshire hog in preparation of demonstrating how to break down the animal.  I was giddy with excitement.  Gross… right?!  Well, my hubby and I are planning on breaking down our own pig later on this year with the help of my father in law.  So I was definitely taking many pictures for our own records.

Set up around the entire ballroom were 5 tables where the chefs were handing out all of their creations. The five chefs were Cody Hogan from Kansas City who used a Berkshire hog.  Local George Formaro from Django and Centro who also used a Berkshire.  Howard Hanna, from River Club KC who used a Gloucestershire Old Spots.  The reigning King of Porc, Matt Steigerwald from Iowa who used a Red Wattle hog.  And last, Hal Jasa also from Iowa who used a Duroc hog.

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This was my first time being acquainted with Matt Steigerwald from Mount Vernon, Iowa. His restaurant Lincoln Cafe has garnered national praise for his ideology in local, seasonal and sustainable. This was by far my favorite chef and the one I voted for.  Let me show you why!
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Preparing Smoked Shoulder Sopes
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Ciccioli with pickled ramps and house bread
(Ciccioli is made from compressing, drying, and aging fatty left over pieces of pork.)
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My favorite morsel of the evening…
Belly Springroll with house kimchii and avocado yuzu puree
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Divine!  The springroll was filled with pork belly and as most Asians know to ease in the digestion, chef Matt Steigerwald topped it with house fermented kimchii!  He pickles all of his own relishes and is constantly playing with the amount of time he ferments.  This was a 3 month old ferment.  The finishing touch was the avocado puree.  A perfect amount of crunch, spice and the pork belly just melts in your mouth.  Perfect and definitely something I will try and recreate at home!
An array of assorted salumi and charcuterie, music to my ears!
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LARDO!
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I was thrilled to taste his lardo and it did not fail!
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For me, Matt had it down!!  I was impressed in that everything he served tasted wonderful.  A lot of time and energy was put into his meal.  From house cured charcuterie to fermented relishes, everything was made in house.  It’s in these details that take a simple dish to another level.  My friend Alicia is well acquainted with Matt and I had the opportunity to meet him later in the evening.  It was so much fun talking ferments, curing and his recent trip to Barcelona!  His first time in Spain where he left inspired by the food, the people and the culture.  He even had a couple pounds of Jamon Iberico confiscated from him that he was trying to bring back to his staff.  Let me tell you it’s in this ham made in Spain that turns peoples lives around!!  Yes… it’s that good!  I am now excited to visit Lincoln Cafe!
Our next stop was visiting the table of local chef George Formaro from Django and Centro here in Des Moines, Iowa.
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I was really excited when I approached his table as he was focusing on Mexican/South American food.  He was serving homemade chorizo and pork belly tacos.  One of my favorite pork sausages is Mexican chorizo so I was thrilled to taste his.  After serving us our tacos we were able to top it with different salsa’s and pico de gallo.

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I hate to say this but the chorizo lacked spice and flavor.  It was very bland and nothing compared to even the homemade chorizo they sell at our local Mexican grocer, La Tapatia.  What my husband and I really didn’t understand is that we were wanting a bit more of a spice and realized we were missing cilantro.  If only he would have added that into the pico or on it’s own, it would have brightened this taco up.

My second favorite chef was Howard Hanna from Kansas City.

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I really enjoyed that he was using the different parts of the animal including it’s organs.  My favorite though were his pickled and carmelized veggies.  So great after eating so much fat!

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Local chef, Hal Jasa from Des Moines
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When Gabe and I approached the table of Hal Jasa from Des Moines, it looked empty.  Food is really set by it’s visual appeal.  Serving bits of food in paper cups did not help this table attract people.  Gabe and I did pick up some beans with sausage which my husband told me reminded him of a Spanish dish.  When I tried it I was let down by the lack of flavor and the undercooked legume.  I am still excited, however, that this chef will be opening up a restaurant called Homage in Des Moines.  It’s said that it will focus on local, seasonal and sustainable agriculture. I hope it works out well as our city is in need of a restaurant like this.

Our last stop was visiting chef Cody Hogan from Kansas City.  His restaurant focuses on French cuisine.

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This chef also knew what he was doing!  Slow cooked pork topped with it’s fat and a side of greens to help our belly digest!  This was wonderful!!
By this time, Gabe and I were ready to head home and pick up our boys.  We had such a wonderful time at this event.  I even snuck in a picture with Alicia!!
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Gabe and I were very pleased to hear that Matt Steigerweld from Lincoln Cafe kept his crown and was named the 2010 King of Porc!  My only question, how about getting some bloggers involved?  I would love to take this challenge on!!  A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa at Cochon 555, that would be AWESOME!  
Thanks Cochon 555 and Foodbuzz for such an amazing time and in promoting the sustainability of heritage breed pigs!

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

If you haven’t already checked out my latest giveaway, Ebersole Cattle Company is giving away a grassfed beef package!  Make sure to check them out and comment for your chance to win!