Saturday, August 18, 2012

Playing With Real Food!

Tonight there were just the two of us for supper.  It is really not unusual for a Saturday night with a teenage son.  All young people feel the need to be doing something on the weekends that does not involve parents, and I completely understand that, but this Saturday night is different.  It is the last Saturday night he will live with us because Son 3 leaves for college next Saturday morning.  I know he will be back on occasion, but he is going to a distant school and will not be here until Thanksgiving. When he arrives we will feel like he has come home but it will feel like a visit to him.  It's the normal progression of life and I accept it and am thrilled for the opportunities that he will have.  At the same time our nest will be empty and it will take a little while to get used to.

So tonight while planning our last Saturday night meal, knowing he would not be here I realized___Hey! We can have whatever we want and don't have to consider another palette.  I am seeing glimmers of an upside to this change in life.

We were going to cook a hamburger patty on the grill and have a side salad.  It sounded fine to both of us, but before I began to cook I made the mistake of browsing a few websites I have been following recently concerning "real food".  I was under the impression that " the real food movement" and " the slow food movement" were one in the same.  As usual, I was incorrect.  Slow food simply is preparing dishes from scratch, no cream of anything  soup or packs of frozen birds eye mixed veggies in an asian sauce.  It's simply using your ingredients and creating fabulous foods.  Chocolate truffles?  No big deal just whip them up and enjoy.  Flans, crepes, steaks, rolls, souffles, soups, or cream brulee?  You want it, just make it.  There are no restrictions as long as you make it yourself and buy local as often as possible.

The real food movement is much more restrictive.  You may use purchased products providing they have no more than 5 ingredients, no additives, no preservatives, no sugar, corn syrup, white flours, butter, soy, oils that are not cold pressed, non organic products.... It seems that whole grain flours are fine, but they prefer that you grind and use yours within 20 minutes of grinding.  Don't know abut any of you but I have no wheat fields in my backyard and I have never seen bushels of wheat at Publix.  While I really do agree with most of what THEY say, it is just not something I feel we could do totally. I am willing to try it in a modified way though.  I guess it is the "Slow mostly real food movement",  but right now it is a movement of two and The Hub only joined because I do all the cooking so he has no options.

 I remembered some Bing cherries we had which needed to be used tonight.  I had a small handful and they were either going to be eaten today or trashed.  I also had some cilantro with a tiny bit of life in it.  Add to that a husband who wanted a little pre dinner cocktail and we have tonights starter.

Cherry Cilantro Mojito

8-10 fresh cherries, pitted and halved
8-10 cilantro sprigs
3 limes
3 - 4 ounces rum
2 tablespoons agave (Some sweetener that is supposed to be much better for you than sugar)

In a large thick glass muddle the cherries and cilantro,  Squeeze the limes into the glass and toss in the skins.  Muddle again to get the oils out of the skins.  Strain and pour  into 2 cocktail glasses.  Add 1/2 of the agave to each glass and give it a quick stir.  Fill with ice and add the rum.  Pour in the seltzer and garnish with a whole cherry and sprig of cilantro.  If you stir prior to serving it becomes this beautiful pink.  If you serve it without stirring there is a deep pink syrup in the bottom fading to clear seltzer on the top. It still needs to be stirred before drinking but it is a lovely presentation.  This was fantastic and we have no picture because it was gone before I even thought about writing of it tonight.  If you want something a little different try it.  It was a great ending to a muggy summer day.  This fit in the real food movement completely. (except for the rum?)  I am not sure what their stance on spirits might be.

We both love fried green tomatoes, which fail miserably in the real food movement but I found  method  that gives the flavors without frying or the dreaded white flour batter.

Green Tomato Casserole

4 green tomatoes sliced very thin
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
sea salt
1/2 cup panko (  Japanese bread crumbs. Should be organic and whole grain...Good luck finding that)
olive oil in an olive oil mister
2 tablespoons butter in pieces (  Uh oh!  This is obviously slow cooking and not real food)

Using the olive oil mister spray the bottom and sides of a small casserole dish.  Put a layer of tomatoes in the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add a very thin layer of parmesan cheese and sprinkle about a tablespoon of the bread crumbs over the cheese.  Repeat as many times as you need to, ending with the tomatoes and cheese. Reserve the remaining panko  for later.  Cover the casserole with a lid ( no aluminum foil in the real food cooking movement)  and cook at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Take the lid off and sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top.  Dot with butter and bake, uncovered until the topping is light brown and crispy.

In reality I do own an olive oil mister but didn't use it.  I sprayed the dish with butter flavored Pam, and when it was time to dot the butter over the top I sprayed it with the Pam again. ( real food super fail!)  I cut the recipe in half because I only had 2 green tomatoes.  If /when I make it again, I will do the same. We both ate a serving and there were no leftovers which makes it a nearly perfect dish.  It was extremely tasty and gone before I thought to take a picture of it.

I found this recipe on a site that was not as strict about what is allowed.  I guess they are the Methodists of the movement because they allow raw sugar as long as it is pure cane sugar instead of raw beet sugar.  Also as mentioned above, I have no fresh wheat so I used King Arthur milled whole wheat flour.   I am sure all the nutrients evaporated into thin air 20 minutes after it was milled but it is what I have.  I did have locally grown peaches and organic fat free milk.  Does that count?  I also have Amish butter ( This particular woman lets you use butter provided it is made from raw milk and has nothing  added.  I have no idea where the cows the Amish get milk from live or if they only eat organic grains and organic grasses, but I am relatively sure it was not churned electrically)  I know she would prefer I churn it  myself right after milking Bessie.

Peach Cobbler

2 cups peeled chopped peaches
2 tablespoons agave
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup organic skimmed milk
1 teaspoon baking powder ( must have no aluminum in it)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup butter

Peel and chop the peaches and let them sit in the agave for about 10 minutes.  Stir a couple of times while sitting.

Melt the butter in an 8x8 glass baking pan (  It seems we should only cook in glass or stainless steel)

In a small bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir with a fork to combine.  Slowly add the milk in and stir until the batter is thoroughly moistened and free from big lumps, but you don't want to mix to much because you don't want the batter to become glutenous.

Pour the batter over the melted butter and spoon the fruit on top of the batter.  Pop it in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.  This is a much darker cobbler but tasted very good.  Again we have no picture because The Hub served his own bowl and scooped the entire middle of the cobbler into his bowl.  He left four ragged corners and I tried to get a picture but...well, you can imagine.  Serve it with a little ice cream.  You probably should make your own,  I bought mine at The Pig.  For a healthier version of a traditional dessert it was quite good.    I can see making it this way every time we have it.  But I must confess, I only tasted the cake part.  It's an excellent dessert for me to make since I loathe cooked fruit and will not eat it.

So with the imminent departure of Son3, time on our hands, and a willing partner who has only refused to eat what I cooked once in 38 years, we begin a different chapter in life and the way we live.

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