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This salad was a big hit.  Crunchy, gorgeous to look at, delicious, and of course nutritious!

Purple Kale

Frisee

Bosc Pears

Spiced Pecans

Blue Cheese

Red Onion
Lemon and Olive oil salad dressing

Crunchy Purple Kale Salad

Crunchy Purple Kale Salad

Yum

Yum

2 lbs short ribs (grass fed beef is best)

1qt chicken or beef stock

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

2 stalks lemon grass

4 star anise

black pepper

whole coriander seed

1 cinnamon stick

5 garlic cloves

5 shallots

5 small parsnips

6 carrots

1 purple yam

1 turnip

fish sauce

coconut oil

fresh cilantro

fresh limes

Brown the beef in coconut oil.  Put in a crock pot or large dutch oven with chicken or beef stock, tomatoes.  Add spices whole and shallots peeled but whole.  Braise meat at a moderate temperature for quite a few hours until the meat is tender but not quite falling off the bone.  At this point you will add the root vegetables which have been peeled and cut into big chunks all about the same size.  Keep the stew at a simmer until the vegetables are tender and the meat is now falling off the bone.  Before serving stir in a generous tablespoon or two of fish sauce.  Serve over rice and topped with chopped cilantro and a squirt of fresh lime juice.

Some folks need to be convinced that cooking for ourselves is worth it.  In my blog I am interested in exploring all aspects of nourishment.  Cooking is a very nourishing act we can do for ourselves or for others.  I hope to explore this topic from different angles over time,  so check back for future installments of Reasons to Cook!

We all have heard the expression “You are what you eat.”  This is true in the sense that you can’t build strong bones, blood vessels and tissues without the nutritional building blocks from healthy food.   But I would ask you to consider for a moment that in truth we are what we absorb!  Many of us have healthy diets but poor digestion.  How can we get the most out of our food?

making tamales together

Did you know that digestion actually begins in the brain?  It is called the “cephalic phase” of digestion.  It refers to our brains anticipating that a good meal is coming and preparing our bodies for digestion.  This is one very good reason to cook meals at home.  The process of preparing the food and the smell of the food cooking, all prime the body for optimal digestion!  So get back to basics!  Cooking for ourselves is an empowering act of creating health.

ain't christmas without it

ain't christmas without it

Every Christmas one of my favorite things to make is pan forte.  An Italian holiday confection made from nuts and fruit, pan forte translates as “strong bread.”  It is chewy, spicy, nutty deliciousness.  Put a slice in your pocket when you go skiing and you can have a nutrient dense, energy packed snack to keep you going.  I get great pleasure when I package the pan forte.  I wrap each square in wax paper, then brown paper (I cut up a grocery bag), tied with ribbon and sealed with sealing wax.  I love the way they look!  I make enough to give to family and friends and a few extra to have on hand for hostess gifts.  I’ve adapted this recipe from Nancy Silverton’s version in Pastries from the La Brea Bakery.

Pan Forte
makes one half sheet pan (13 x 18 x 1) prepare the pan with light oil and parchment

  • 3 cups whole raw almonds
  • 3 cups whole raw hazelnuts

toast the nuts separately in a 350 degree oven for 10 or 15 minutes until they are brown and toasty smelling.  Put the hazelnuts into a dry dish towel and rub them together to get rid of some of the dry skins.  Put the nuts in a bowl and add:

  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper (I like it spicy, you can add less if this scares you)
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup barley flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2.5 pounds mixed dried fruit

I have experimented a lot with different kinds of dried fruit.  Sometimes I use chrystalized ginger in the mix,  I always use dried peaches, figs, golden raisins, dried cherries, apricots, prunes.  Cut them all up into manageable pieces (1/2 inch or 1 inch).  Add the dried fruit to the nut/spice mixture and stir  to coat the nuts and fruit with the spices and flour.  Meanwhile… on the stove:

  • 1 1/3 cups honey
  • 2 cups sugar

Bring the sugar and honey to a boil in a saucepan.  The sugar should dissolve in the honey.  Cook without stirring.  Cook until it reaches the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer (224 -240 degrees).  Working quickly at this point you will pour the honey mixture over the nuts and frut, stirring to combine.  It will be very thick and you must work quickly because as it cools it becomes nearly impossible to stir.  Pour it into the prepared pan.  Using wet hands, press the mixture into the pan.  Bake for one hour at 300 degrees.  Let it cool slightly before taking it out of the pan.  Cut the edges off.  Cut into twelve rectangles.  Wrap when cool.  Pan forte keeps well when wrapped.

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